The transitional military government in Mali has confirmed the discovery of a mass grave near a former French military base, after officials in Paris claimed the bodies had been deliberately placed there in an attempt to discredit France.
The bodies found were in an advanced state of decomposition, according to a statement released by the public relations department of the Malian military on Friday night.
A patrol discovered the bodies last week not far from the Gossi army base in the south of the country, the statement said, adding that an investigation was planned.
Earlier on Friday, France accused Russian mercenaries active in Mali of faking a mass grave in an attempt to discredit the French military following its decision to withdraw its troops from the country.
The French military used a drone to film mercenaries moving and burying bodies at the Gossi military base shortly after the French forces that had been stationed there withdrew, a spokesperson for the French army told Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) in Paris on Friday.
Video footage showed the mercenaries filming and photographing the dead, he said, with the images later appearing on social media accompanied by comments stating that this was the legacy of the French troops stationed there.
The Russian mercenary group Wagner moved in after the base was handed back to Mali by France on April 19, and then most likely published the footage on the internet, the French military spokesperson added.
The dead are believed to be people who died in fighting in the region shortly before the French forces left the country, the spokesperson said.
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