World Bulletin / News Desk
Mali Islamic group MUJWA said on Sunday the killing of 16 Muslim preachers including eight Mauritanians and eight Malians by an army patrol in Mali was a declaration of war.
The Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA) is one of the Islamic groups that has hijacked a Tuareg rebellion in northern Mali since April.
"With this barbaric act that was not warranted, I don't see any future for Malian army or the Malian government because we are going to continue our southward push to Bamako. This was a declaration of war," said Oumar Ould Hamaha, a senior speaking on behalf MUJWA.
"The 16 were moderate Islamists. They were killed at a checkpoint in Diabaly in the Segou region, close to the Mauritanian border," he told Reuters by telephone.
He said the preachers were travelling in a convoy to the capital Bamako for a conference when an army patrol opened fire.
After initially limiting its presence to the three regions of Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal, MUJWA retook the town of Douentza at the crossroads of north and south Mali on Sept. 2.
The Malian government confirmed in a short statement on Sunday evening that: "An incident occurred at the Diabaly checkpoint on Saturday evening during which 16 people including eight Mauritanians and eight Malians were killed by gunshot."
It said an investigation has been launched.
A Malian army officer based at the Segou military camp told Reuters by telephone an army patrol had attacked first in order not to be caught by surprise.
"It was in response against an attempted incursion of the Islamist group. Elements of our patrol did not wait to be ambushed because they had been following the movement of the group," he said, requesting not to be named.
Mali has been mired in chaos since March when soldiers toppled the president, leaving a power vacuum that enabled Tuareg rebels from the north to seize nearly two thirds of the country.
Mohamed Coulibaly, one of the organisers of the conference said the 16 preachers killed were expected to attend the event starting on Sept. 14 in the Malian capital.
"They were stopped and searched at a checkpoint and nothing was found. They were not armed. They even called to alert us that they had been stopped at the checkpoint and we alerted the authorities in Bamako," Coulibaly told Reuters at the Dawa Mosque in the Banankabougou neighbourhood in Bamako.
"We were surprised to hear this morning that they were all killed," he said.
Mali's interim leader Dioncounda Traore, last week made a formal request to West African regional body ECOWAS for military assistance to help free the country's north.
The rare Senate vote addressing American war powers aims to shut down US military involvement in Yemen within a month unless Congress formally authorizes continued involvement.
The meeting of the world's leading economies in Buenos Aires comes days before US tariffs on steel and aluminum are due to come into force on Friday for all countries except Canada and Mexico.
Meeting cancelled after Russia, China, Kazakhstan and Bolivia voted ‘no’
'Despite the oppression they face, Iranians are fighting to reclaim their rights,' U.S. president says
Nearly 800 FARC militants assumed to be in Guaviare district where air force carried out strike
Two civilians and one security officer dead, another two officers wounded
Elor Azaria, who killed an injured and unarmed Palestinian in 2016, is now set for release on May 10
The French Embassy in Tel Aviv says it was taking the case 'very seriously'
The ISIL terrorist was responsible for taking by force houses of security members in Mosul
Iraq suffers from acute financial crisis due to dropped oil prices and anti-terrorism expenses
Thousands of supporters poured into the streets of the capital island Male on Friday night and continued their protest rally till early Saturday, the joint opposition said in a statement issued in Colombo.
Also suspended were the accounts of its parent organization, Strategic Communication Laboratories, as well as those of University of Cambridge psychologist Aleksandr Kogan and Christopher Wylie, who runs Eunoia Technologies.
Andrew McCabe was accused of misleading investigators on Clinton Foundation corruption case