Moura massacre

The Moura massacre was carried out by Malian Armed Forces and Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group between 27 and 31 March 2022, in the central Malian town of Moura, Mopti Region in conflict with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb's Jama'at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin. Over 300 civilians are alleged to have been killed according to US-based Human Rights Watch.[2][3][4]

Moura Massacre
Part of the Mali War
Date27 March 2022 (2022-03-27) – 31 March 2022 (2022-03-31)
Location14°19′40″N 4°36′0″W / 14.32778°N 4.60000°W / 14.32778; -4.60000
Result Malian victory
 Mali Armed Forces
Wagner Group (alleged)

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb

Wagner Group: ~100 At least 30
Casualties and losses
Wagner Group: 2+ Per Mali:
203 killed
51 captured
300 civilians killed (per Human Rights Watch)
500 (UN)[1]
Moura massacre is located in Mali
Moura massacre
Location within Mali


Since January 2012, Mali has been embroiled in a civil war between Islamist insurgents and the Malian government. France joined the conflict the next year, but announced after the 2020 Malian coup d'état their intention to gradually reduce the number of French forces and withdraw them from the country. Mali has since looked for other ways to acquire foreign help, and has reportedly received help from a Russian private military company called the Wagner Group, which Malian and Russian forces both insisted were there to serve as military advisors only.[4][5] Human Rights Watch documented at least 71 individual cases of civilians summarily executed by security forces from December 2021 to March 2022.[6] Islamist activities have also raised concerns, with France24 journalist Wassim Nasr suggesting the massacre was in part a retaliation for repeated attacks on the village of Dogofry, Ségou by members of the Islamist Macina Liberation Front.[7]

The town of Moura in particular has been likened to having been under the "quasi-control" of jihadists, particularly Jama'at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin, which is part of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb[3] and has enforced sharia law on villagers.[8] In 2022 Muhammed Kufa, AQIM's second-in-command leader, was spotted in the city.[7]


The operation began on 27 March when government forces entered the town of Moura.[9] Military helicopters landed near the town's market, the soldiers stepped out and approached a group of around 30 jihadists, who fired at them, killing at least two white soldiers (most likely from the Wagner Group) and an unknown amount of government ones.[10][11] Malian forces fired back, killing several people. Several civilians saw the scene unfold and tried to flee, but were followed by a helicopter that seemed to be deliberately firing at running civilians.[10]

According to testimonies, Malian and white soldiers proceeded by deploying themselves across the town, blocking off exits and killing anybody who tried to escape.[10] Security forces detained and interrogated hundreds of civilian men, often confiscating their belongings, including their telephones. Men who refused to be rounded up were shot on the spot by white mercenaries.[10] The detainees were then sent to the river bank where they were rounded up into groups of 4, 6, or 10 and then executed en masse.[12][10] Survivors told Reuters that members of the Bobo and Bellah groups were forced to dig mass graves.[13]

Witnesses disagreed on the reasons why the men were singled out for execution, with some asserting that men wearing beards and traditional Islamic clothing were more likely to be targeted due to their similar appearances to Islamists. Others told Human Rights Watch that the people who had been executed were targeted due to their ethnic Fulani background.[10]

The operation came to an end on 31 March. A witness told Human Rights Watch he had overheard a government officer tell someone over his walkie-talkie to "Stop killing people, let them go," and the killings stopped.[10] At least three residents said that the military gave a speech afterwards in which they apologized for the massacre.[13]

According to reports, around 100 white soldiers who spoke a language other than French participated in the siege. Villagers believed they were Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group as they had heard stories about their involvement in the conflict earlier in the year.[10] Many of these mercenaries were accused of being responsible for interrogations, torture and mass executions of civilians.[12]


On 1 April, the Malian government announced it had finished a nine-day military operation centred around Moura region and that over 203 terrorists had been killed.[7][a]

Social media posts purporting that a massacre had taken place in the city spread rapidly in the country, sparking a controversy.[7][5][11] On 5 April, Human Rights Watch issued a major report detailing the siege, which stated that over 300 civilians had been killed by Malian forces in what it termed the "worst single atrocity" in the history of the Mali War.[b][10]

The report raised international attention, and the massacre received condemnations from the German Federal Foreign Office,[11] France,[15] the Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC),[16] European Union official Josep Borrell,[17] Global Affairs Canada,[18] and the United States Department of State.[19]

United Nations official Alioune Tine requested for an investigation into the incident on 6 April.[20] The Malian government opened an inquiry the next day, which was congratulated by representatives of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali.[15] On 20 April the United Nations expressed worries that Mali was not letting investigators enter Moura.[21]

German Federal Minister of Defence Christine Lambrecht told reporters on 9 April she held growing doubts about her country's participation in the conflict as "the question then arises of whether this [German military intervention] can be compatible with our values, especially if we then have to witness atrocities like in Moura."[22] Minister for Foreign Affairs Annalena Baerbock voiced similar concerns.[23]

On 8 April the Russian Foreign Ministry congratulated Mali's actions, describing reports of a massacre as "disinformation."[24] That day, France drafted a proposal at the United Nations Security Council to investigate alleged atrocities during the battle, which was rejected by Russia and China on the grounds that it was premature to open an inquiry until Malian forces had announced one.[25]

In late April Jama'at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin, or GSIM, said it had captured a Wagner Group fighter. GSIM condemned the massacre.[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ For the official tweet, see
    Forces Armées Maliennes Twitter


    2 April 2022[14]

  2. ^ This estimate is built on the conclusions of town elders. A survivor who was forced to dig mass graves counted at least 241 casualties.[10]


  1. ^ "Malian troops, foreign military personnel killed over 500 people during military operation in Moura in March 2022 – UN human rights report". United Nations Human Rights. Retrieved 12 May 2023.
  2. ^ "Mali: Massacre by Army, Foreign Soldiers". 5 April 2022.
  3. ^ a b c Burke, Jason; Akinwotu, Emmanuel (4 May 2022). "Russian mercenaries linked to civilian massacres in Mali". The Guardian.
  4. ^ a b Kaledzi, Isaac (6 April 2022). "Malian army and suspected Russian fighters accused of massacre". Deutsche Welle.
  5. ^ a b "Mali says it has opened investigation into alleged massacre in village of Moura". France 24. 6 April 2022. Retrieved 9 April 2022.
  6. ^ McAllister, Edward (2 April 2022). Harrison, Mike (ed.). "Mali says military operation in Moura area kills 200 militants". Reuters. Archived from the original on 9 April 2022. Retrieved 9 April 2022.
  7. ^ a b c d Coffey, David (7 April 2022). "Mali opens investigation into alleged massacre in Moura village". RFI. Retrieved 9 April 2022.
  8. ^ "Mali troops and suspected Russian fighters accused of massacre". BBC News. 5 April 2022. Retrieved 9 April 2022.
  9. ^ "Mali Says 203 Killed in Military Operation in Sahel State". VOA. Retrieved 9 April 2022.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Mali: Massacre by Army, Foreign Soldiers". Human Rights Watch. 5 April 2022. Retrieved 9 April 2022.
  11. ^ a b c Akinwotu, Emmanuel (5 April 2022). "Russian mercenaries and Mali army accused of killing 300 civilians". the Guardian. Retrieved 9 April 2022.
  12. ^ a b "Malian, foreign soldiers allegedly killed hundreds in town siege -rights group". Reuters. 5 April 2022. Retrieved 9 April 2022.
  13. ^ a b Lorgerie, Paul; McAllister, Edward; Peyton, Nellie (14 April 2022). MacSwan, Angus (ed.). "Mali massacre survivors say white mercenaries involved in killings". Reuters. Archived from the original on 9 April 2022. Retrieved 14 April 2022.
  14. ^ Forces Armées Maliennes [@FAMa_DIRPA] (2 April 2022). "MMUNIQUE N°026 DE L'ETAT-MAJOR GENERAL DES ARMEES DU 01 AVRIL 2022" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  15. ^ a b "UN demands urgent access to site of alleged Mali massacre in Moura". RFI. 8 April 2022. Retrieved 9 April 2022.
  16. ^ "CIVIC Condemns Alleged Killing of Civilians in Moura, Encourages Transparent Investigation - Mali". ReliefWeb. Retrieved 11 April 2022.
  17. ^ Peltier, Elian (4 April 2022). "Western Officials Condemn Reports of 'Massacre' by Military in Central Mali". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 10 April 2022.
  18. ^ "Statement on violence in Moura, Mali". Global Affairs Canada. 5 April 2022. Retrieved 10 April 2022.
  19. ^ "Reported Massacre in Mali". United States Department of State. Retrieved 9 April 2022.
  20. ^ "Mali: UN expert urges probe into grave rights violations in Moura". OHCHR.
  21. ^ "U.N. says investigators prevented access to site of Mali killings". Reuters. 20 April 2022. Archived from the original on 22 April 2022. Retrieved 20 April 2022.
  22. ^ "German Minister Questions Commitment in Mali After Moura 'Atrocities'". VOA. Retrieved 10 April 2022.
  23. ^ "Annalena Baerlock, la cheffe de la diplomatie allemande au Mali avant un possible retrait de la Bundeswehr". Sud Ouest (in French). 4 November 2022. ISSN 1760-6454. Retrieved 11 April 2022.
  24. ^ "Moscow hails Mali 'victory' after Moura operation". Al Arabiya English. 8 April 2022. Retrieved 9 April 2022.
  25. ^ "Mali: Russia blocks UN security council request for investigation into Moura massacre". Africanews. 10 April 2022. Retrieved 10 April 2022.