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The civilians killed by France’s operation Barkhane in the Sahel

We revealed that French soldiers of operation Barkhane killed at least 25 civilians in Mali while the official toll stands at 7. French troops have fought against jihadists in the Sahel since 2013. With planes, drones and 5,100 soldiers, Barkhane is the largest deployment of French troops abroad but had not been subjected to much scrutiny.

In January 2021, the French army bombed a gathering near a village called Bounti/Bounty. Local organisations and the UN argued that 19 civilians had been killed in the strike, whereas the French army maintained that no civilian was killed. Our interview with eight survivors confirmed that the strike had killed civilians.

Regarding another case, we obtained leaked documents from operation Barkhane that admitted that its soldiers had killed a civilian, mistaken for a jihadists. The army paid the man’s family and kept the event a secret.

This story was published in Spiegel, New Humanitarian and Courrier International.

In another article for The New Humanitarian, we looked at the millions of euros of support by the European Union to the Malian army. We found that the EU provided trainings to soldiers without checking if they were previously involved in human rights violations.