Bamako – Armed men surrounded Malian opposition politician Oumar Mariko’s home in the capital Bamako on Tuesday after he ignored a summons from the gendarmes for criticising the ruling junta, a witnesses said.
At a recent public meeting in the conflict-torn Sahel nation, Mariko had suggested that the army was “murdering people,” and urged the junta to assume responsibility for the situation in the country.
According to a video seen by AFP, the politician listed several recent mass killings in Mali and called them “unacceptable” including murky events that occurred last week in Moura in the centre of the country.
Mali’s army said on Friday that it killed 203 militants in Moura.
However, that announcement followed widely shared social media reports of a civilian massacre in the area.
The United States, European Union, United Nations and Mali’s former colonial power France have all raised concerns about the possible killing of civilians in Moura.
Human Rights Watch also said in a report on Tuesday that Malian forces and foreign fighters had killed about 300 people in Moura.
Gendarmes had summoned Mariko on Tuesday morning after the video circulated online.
His left-leaning SADI party also stated that armed men had broken into his home on Monday, demanding to know where he was.
Armed men returned to his home, surrounding it, on Tuesday, witnesses and a family member told AFP, after Mariko failed to appear before the gendarmes.
A poor nation of 21 million people, Mali is governed by a junta that seized power in a military coup in August 2020.
The junta promised to restore civilian rule after the putsch, but it is under sanctions from the West Africa bloc ECOWAS for ignoring an earlier commitment to stage elections in February this year.
Swathes of Mali lie outside of government control, due to a brutal jihadist conflict that first emerged in 2012, and has since spread to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.