Mali Accuses France of Espionage

Mali’s military junta accused the French army of spying on Tuesday after the French military released a video of what it alleged were Russian mercenaries burying bodies at a grave near a military base in northern Mali last week.

Mali’s junta said in a statement that France flew their drone “illegally” over the military base on April 20, the day after French forces handed over the base to Malian authorities.

The junta also claimed that it discovered the mass grave near the Gossi base one day after the French released the video.

“The said a drone was present…to spy on our brave FAMa (Malian Armed Forces),” government spokesman Abdoulaye Maiga said.

“In addition to the spying, French forces were guilty of subversion by publishing false images worked up to accuse the FAMa of responsibility of killing civilians, with the aim of tarnishing their image,” Maiga added.

Meanwhile, the French military said they filmed the video near the Gossi military base in northern Mali and accused Russian-linked mercenaries of playing a role in a coordinated campaign to smear departing French soldiers.

Relations between Paris and Bamako soured after the Malian military seized power in a coup in 2020. 

In February, France decided to pull out its troops after falling out with the military junta, especially over its rapprochement with the Kremlin.

France and the United States have accused mercenaries from the Kremlin-linked security firm Wagner of deploying in Mali, but the junta said the Russians were military instructors helping to restore order.

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