Mali detains 49 soldiers from the Sahel al-Haj and calls them"mercenaries"

Malian authorities announced on Monday evening that they had detained 49 Ivorian soldiers upon arrival at Bamako airport on Sunday, noting that they would treat them as “mercenaries”.

Colonel Abdullah Maiga, a spokesman for the transitional government, said in a statement broadcast on state television that “49 Ivorian soldiers have been found to be in Malian territory illegally (…) with weapons and ammunition without a mission order. or license.

He added: “The Transitional Government has decided to refer this matter to the competent judiciary.”

United Nations Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) spokesman Olivier Salgado hinted earlier on Monday that these Ivory Coast soldiers may have arrived in Mali to provide logistical support to their country’s forces participating in the MINUSMA mission.

For its part, an Ivorian diplomatic source told AFP that some of the soldiers had arrived in Mali to work for MINUSMA at the logistics base of Coastal Aviation Services.

But the Malian government said the Ivory Coast soldiers it interrogated gave four different versions of why they were in its territory.

She explained that the accounts are “a secret mission rotating within MINUSMA protecting the logistics base of Coastal Aviation Services and protecting a German battalion.”

In a statement, the Mali government said it had made the decision to “immediately cease the activities of protecting Coastal Aviation Services from foreign forces and demand the immediate withdrawal of these forces from Mali territory.”

As of Monday evening, there was no official position from the Ivory Coast authorities on this issue.

Source: AFP.

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