Nouakchott – According to the interior ministry, a delegation of Mauritanian experts has arrived in Mali to assist in the investigation into the recent disappearance of a number of their compatriots from a border area between the two nations.
In January and early March, two series of disappearances were reported, raising tensions at a time when internationally isolated Mali is attempting to forge stronger ties with the United States.
The Mauritanian authorities haven’t spoken much about what transpired, but they have accused the Malian army of “repeated illegal conduct.”
Unverified voice recordings on social media claim that the Malian army is responsible for the disappearance of up to 30 Mauritanians, and a Mauritanian MP claims that at least 15 individuals have been slain.
The experts have been dispatched to take part in a joint probe, which was agreed to over the weekend when the Malian foreign minister visited Nouakchott, Mauritanian capital, to try to de-escalate the situation.
According to a security source, the delegation, which included police officers and military officials, arrived Wednesday night.
They will begin their work “at the location of the incident,” according to a statement from the Mauritanian interior ministry.
Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga, a spokesperson for the Malian government, earlier stated that “murders” had occurred and that Mali had launched an investigation. He stressed, though, that there was “at this stage no proof” to incriminate the armed forces, which he said “respect human rights and always act professionally.”
Mali and Mauritania are important countries in West Africa’s underdeveloped and turbulent Sahel region.
Mali is mired in a decade-long security crisis, with its under-equipped military fighting jihadist rebels, ethnic bloodshed, and criminal gangs.
After a surge of public protests, a military coup seized control in August 2020, ousting elected president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
The government demanded that French troops stationed in the nation leave immediately last month.
The junta had been pursuing tighter connections with Mauritania in order to mitigate the impact of an embargo imposed by Mali’s neighbors due to failure to hold elections as promised.