The United States has said a report about the killing of large numbers of people in a village in central Mali is “extremely disturbing”, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Sunday.
The Malian army on Friday said 203 combatants were killed in an operation in the Mora region from March 23-31.
The operation saw to the arrest of 51 people and seizure of large quantities of weapons, the army’s statement said.
In a statement, Price said there were conflicting reports about who was responsible for the killings.
“We are concerned that many reports suggest that the perpetrators were unaccountable forces from the Kremlin-backed Wagner Group. Other reports claim the Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) had targeted elements of known violent extremist groups,” he said.
“These conflicting reports illustrate the urgent need for the Malian transition authorities to give impartial investigators free, unfettered, and safe access to the area where these tragic events unfolded.”
The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the country said it heard reports of civilian deaths, raising human rights concerns.
Also, numerous social media reports in Mali last week alleged that 300 people, including civilians, had been killed in Mora.
A statement issued by the Mali military after the rumours on social media said they neutralised over 300 ‘terrorists’ in the village of Mora which they said was a ‘terrorist fiefdom’.
The Sahel state believes the area is controlled by groups linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS).
A surge in attacks since early March by an Islamic State affiliate has killed hundreds of civilians, according to official and military sources.