This site uses cookies. By accepting cookies you can optimise your browsing experience. Read more.
Mali: Families of hostages allegedly killed in French airstrike speak out07:03

Mali: Families of hostages allegedly killed in French airstrike speak out

Mali, Abeibara
January 22, 2018 at 07:09 GMT -00:00 · Published

More than two months after the French airstrike in Abeibara in late October that allegedly killed 11 Malian soldiers held hostage by militants, families of the hostages are still struggling to find out the truth.

When Ruptly cameras reached the family of missing hostage Boubacar Kante in Markala in December, his uncle, mother and the second wife of his father, stated that they had received no information since the day of the French airstrike. After being initially notified that Kante may have died, they were informed that the information was not correct.

On October 1, 2017, militant group Jamaah Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) published a video named 'Appeal of the detainees,' featuring 11 Malian soldiers held in captivity by the Islamist group. The detainees called on the Malian people, the Malian government and in particular President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita for help in finding a solution. "We call on each and every one of the Malian people for help in order to bring us out of this crisis," they said.

In the video, each prisoner gave a short testimony, mentioning their rank, name, service number, and also the date and location of their capture. Among them was Boubacar Kante, who was kidnapped on July 16, during an attack on the Nampala outpost by militants. The Malian government did not make an official response to the appeal.

On July 26 of the same month, JNIM communicated that all the hostages in their hands had been killed in an airstrike in the locality of Abeibara. A few hours later, the French Ministry of Defence confirmed the airstrike but denied the presence of any civilians or hostages at the site of the attack. The French MoD labelled allegations that there were hostages in the vicinity, "propaganda coming from an armed terrorist group." The area is currently under the control of troops involved in Operation Barkhane, an ongoing military operation that has more than 3,000 French troops deployed in five former French colonies that span the Sahel: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. French President Emmanuel Macron recently re-committed France to the operation and paid a personal visit to troops on the ground.

In an official statement on October 31, the Malian Ministry of Defence stated that the hostages were struck in the airstrike but the state also said that their presence was not known in the preparation phase of the airstrike. JNIM released another statement on November 1, in which they stated: "in response to the French lies, we are ready to provide the bodies to prove their identities."

In the following days, Malian and French authorities made several contradictory statements, that included one by the French Minister of Defence, who said in an interview with RFI on November 15, that "this French raid was a raid to neutralise a terrorist camp. We had identified, even before this operation, very accurately, on the basis of information, as we always do, the existence of a terrorist camp." In an attempt to put an end to the debate, the President of Mali Ibrahim Boubakar Keita released an interview to the magazine Jeunes Afrique on December 3, stating that "they were indeed hostages of terrorists and there should not be any ambiguity between our French friends and us (...) It is an unfortunate fact, which unfortunately can occur in this type of operation. We must admit it and not look for other reasons that do not exist."

Mali's Defence Ministry spokesman Boubacar Diallo on Wednesday branded the claims of collaboration an insult. "At some point a specific media wanted to justify that the 11 Malian hostages that where at this site had joined the jihadi movement. We consider that to be an insult to the memory of these men that lost their lives in service of the nation."

On the reason why families of the hostages are left without information, in an interview with Ruptly, he added: "Because as you understand after an aerial strike the body is sufficiently disfigured making it difficult to identify it immediately, we have to go through several scientific procedures to be able to determine the identity of that person, it's a process still ongoing." Although he also added that " from images that we received we recognised five of our soldiers that were taken hostages during terrorists attack in Boulikessi and we understood that Mali had 11 hostages and there were 11 hostages found on this site, and all of them lost their lives during this operation."

Mali: Families of hostages allegedly killed in French airstrike speak out07:03
No Account? Sign up!
Description

More than two months after the French airstrike in Abeibara in late October that allegedly killed 11 Malian soldiers held hostage by militants, families of the hostages are still struggling to find out the truth.

When Ruptly cameras reached the family of missing hostage Boubacar Kante in Markala in December, his uncle, mother and the second wife of his father, stated that they had received no information since the day of the French airstrike. After being initially notified that Kante may have died, they were informed that the information was not correct.

On October 1, 2017, militant group Jamaah Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) published a video named 'Appeal of the detainees,' featuring 11 Malian soldiers held in captivity by the Islamist group. The detainees called on the Malian people, the Malian government and in particular President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita for help in finding a solution. "We call on each and every one of the Malian people for help in order to bring us out of this crisis," they said.

In the video, each prisoner gave a short testimony, mentioning their rank, name, service number, and also the date and location of their capture. Among them was Boubacar Kante, who was kidnapped on July 16, during an attack on the Nampala outpost by militants. The Malian government did not make an official response to the appeal.

On July 26 of the same month, JNIM communicated that all the hostages in their hands had been killed in an airstrike in the locality of Abeibara. A few hours later, the French Ministry of Defence confirmed the airstrike but denied the presence of any civilians or hostages at the site of the attack. The French MoD labelled allegations that there were hostages in the vicinity, "propaganda coming from an armed terrorist group." The area is currently under the control of troops involved in Operation Barkhane, an ongoing military operation that has more than 3,000 French troops deployed in five former French colonies that span the Sahel: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. French President Emmanuel Macron recently re-committed France to the operation and paid a personal visit to troops on the ground.

In an official statement on October 31, the Malian Ministry of Defence stated that the hostages were struck in the airstrike but the state also said that their presence was not known in the preparation phase of the airstrike. JNIM released another statement on November 1, in which they stated: "in response to the French lies, we are ready to provide the bodies to prove their identities."

In the following days, Malian and French authorities made several contradictory statements, that included one by the French Minister of Defence, who said in an interview with RFI on November 15, that "this French raid was a raid to neutralise a terrorist camp. We had identified, even before this operation, very accurately, on the basis of information, as we always do, the existence of a terrorist camp." In an attempt to put an end to the debate, the President of Mali Ibrahim Boubakar Keita released an interview to the magazine Jeunes Afrique on December 3, stating that "they were indeed hostages of terrorists and there should not be any ambiguity between our French friends and us (...) It is an unfortunate fact, which unfortunately can occur in this type of operation. We must admit it and not look for other reasons that do not exist."

Mali's Defence Ministry spokesman Boubacar Diallo on Wednesday branded the claims of collaboration an insult. "At some point a specific media wanted to justify that the 11 Malian hostages that where at this site had joined the jihadi movement. We consider that to be an insult to the memory of these men that lost their lives in service of the nation."

On the reason why families of the hostages are left without information, in an interview with Ruptly, he added: "Because as you understand after an aerial strike the body is sufficiently disfigured making it difficult to identify it immediately, we have to go through several scientific procedures to be able to determine the identity of that person, it's a process still ongoing." Although he also added that " from images that we received we recognised five of our soldiers that were taken hostages during terrorists attack in Boulikessi and we understood that Mali had 11 hostages and there were 11 hostages found on this site, and all of them lost their lives during this operation."

Top downloads in last 24 hours
01:55
India: At least 17 killed after plane skids of runway in KeralaIndia: At least 17 killed after plane skids of runway in Kerala
August 7, 2020 at 21:50 GMT -00:00
03:51
Ecuadorian boy goes viral for putting mask on his dog to protect him against COVIDEcuadorian boy goes viral for putting mask on his dog to protect him against COVID
August 7, 2020 at 17:27 GMT -00:00
04:33
Chinese farmers create rice field murals to honour medical experts in battle against COVIDChinese farmers create rice field murals to honour medical experts in battle against COVID
August 7, 2020 at 15:25 GMT -00:00
03:39
Shanghai man sets world record for lighting 21 matches with nunchucks in one minuteShanghai man sets world record for lighting 21 matches with nunchucks in one minute
August 8, 2020 at 09:17 GMT -00:00
02:54
Lebanon: Drone footage shows extent of destruction after Beirut blastsLebanon: Drone footage shows extent of destruction after Beirut blasts
August 7, 2020 at 23:11 GMT -00:00
03:45
Lebanon: Dramatic footage shows wedding interrupted by Beirut blasts *EXCLUSIVE*Lebanon: Dramatic footage shows wedding interrupted by Beirut blasts *EXCLUSIVE*
August 7, 2020 at 11:19 GMT -00:00
00:45
Lebanon: Dramatic footage shows moment Beirut blasts hit during wedding photoshootLebanon: Dramatic footage shows moment Beirut blasts hit during wedding photoshoot
August 7, 2020 at 19:14 GMT -00:00
00:14
Lebanon: New mobile video emerges showing intensity of Beirut explosionLebanon: New mobile video emerges showing intensity of Beirut explosion
August 8, 2020 at 02:28 GMT -00:00
02:01
Lebanon: Scale of Beirut blasts captured in port expeditionLebanon: Scale of Beirut blasts captured in port expedition
August 8, 2020 at 11:21 GMT -00:00
04:31
CAT-chy or KIT-schy: Mexican artist creates COVID face shields for felinesCAT-chy or KIT-schy: Mexican artist creates COVID face shields for felines
August 8, 2020 at 05:34 GMT -00:00
01:54
Lebanon: Drone footage shows Beirut hospitals forced to close due to blastsLebanon: Drone footage shows Beirut hospitals forced to close due to blasts
August 7, 2020 at 19:42 GMT -00:00
01:58
UK: Man City fans applaud Silva ahead of last home game against Real MadridUK: Man City fans applaud Silva ahead of last home game against Real Madrid
August 7, 2020 at 23:34 GMT -00:00
02:00
Lebanon: Beirut breaks out into protest clashes as tear gas smoke fills streetsLebanon: Beirut breaks out into protest clashes as tear gas smoke fills streets
August 8, 2020 at 14:46 GMT -00:00
02:15
India: Casualties rushed to hospital after at least 16 killed in plane crash at Kozhikode airportIndia: Casualties rushed to hospital after at least 16 killed in plane crash at Kozhikode airport
August 7, 2020 at 20:31 GMT -00:00
03:29
Lebanon: Anti-govt. protesters throw papers from Beirut Economy Ministry buildingLebanon: Anti-govt. protesters throw papers from Beirut Economy Ministry building
August 8, 2020 at 17:20 GMT -00:00
03:54
Lebanon: Scores injured as Beirut protests turn violentLebanon: Scores injured as Beirut protests turn violent
August 8, 2020 at 18:11 GMT -00:00
Pool for subscribers only
00:22
India: Rescue crews search for survivors of Kerala plane crash *STILLS*India: Rescue crews search for survivors of Kerala plane crash *STILLS*
August 8, 2020 at 00:02 GMT -00:00
03:00
Bulgaria: Anti-government protesters bring Sofia to standstillBulgaria: Anti-government protesters bring Sofia to standstill
August 8, 2020 at 03:38 GMT -00:00
01:49
Lebanon: Beirutis react to Nasrallah's statement on port blastsLebanon: Beirutis react to Nasrallah's statement on port blasts
August 7, 2020 at 19:03 GMT -00:00
View all videos