Mali Mass Grave Contained 21 Bodies

A Mali mass grave was found to contain 21 bodies. Authorities believe the bodies belong to soldiers killed following a March 2012 military coup. The burial site was found near a military camp in the Diago village.

Alasane Diarra, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defense, said the soldiers were likely killed during General Amadou Sanogo’s reign. Sanogo is accused of using violence and intimidation to gain a position of power.

As he proclaimed himself a leader, a battle emerged between his supporters, the Green Berets, and the Red Berets, who supported former President Amadou Toumani Toure. Although the bodies have not been identified, authorities believe the soldiers were killed in the weeks following the initial coup in March.

Diarra said the Mali mass grave was identified in the months following the March coup. As reported by CNN, investigators did not open the grave until recently:

“The investigators have been working on the case since April… They have known about the grave for a while… when they finally went there and opened the grave, there were more bodies than they previously thought.”

The spokeswoman said it is unclear whether the soldiers were Red or Green Berets. Forensic investigators said all of the victims were male soldiers, but they are still working toward confirming their identities. Diarra said the families of missing soldiers will be contacted to assist in identification efforts.

Following a violent reign that lasted nearly 18 months, General Amadou Sanogo was arrested and charged with complicity in kidnapping. In an interview with Reuters, Chief prosecutor Daniel Tessougue said he will charge Sanogo with murder and torture if the bodies show signs of unusual trauma.

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita helped build the case against Sanogo in an effort to end the violence. Unfortunately, recent attacks in Northern Mali highlight the continued threat from Islamist militants and Tuareg separatists.

The Mali mass grave is a grim reminder of the previous violence and continued unrest.

[Image via Flickr]