August 5, 2017 / 8:46 PM / 4 months ago

U.N. finds mass graves in north Mali

DAKAR (Reuters) - The United Nations’ peacekeeping mission has uncovered mass graves in a region of northern Mali beset by conflict between rival groups, the mission said on Saturday.

Fighting between Tuareg groups has intensified in recent weeks in the north, threatening to derail a 2015 peace agreement.

The U.N. mission, known as MINUSMA, has investigated reports of human rights abuses, including in the village of Anefis, about 100 km (60 miles) southwest from the town of Kidal.

“As for Anefis, the teams were able to observe on site the existence of individual graves and mass graves but are not able to establish at this stage either the number of people buried or the circumstances of their deaths,” MINUSMA said in a statement.

It had confirmed 34 cases of human rights abuses in the area, including “enforced disappearances” of minors. Minors may have also been involved in the recent fighting, it said.

A Tuareg insurrection in 2012 created a power vacuum in northern Mali, once a popular destination for adventurous tourists, that has turned it into a launch pad for jihadist attacks across the Sahara and the Sahel to the south.

Former colonial master France intervened a year later to push the Islamists back but they have struggled to stabilise the country.

Reporting By Edward McAllister

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