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French airstrikes kill at least 19 wedding-goers in central Mali (Residents)

French airstrikes killed at least 19 wedding-goers in Bounti, near Douentza in central Mali on Sunday, January 3, according to residents of Bounti who spoke to Sahelien.com.

The Malian authorities have not yet made a statement about the bombing. According to testimonies collected by Sahelien.com, the strikes took place in the afternoon of Sunday, January 3 during a wedding ceremony in Bounti.

“There were no women among the victims, as this is a zone held by the jihadists. They do not allow men to gather with women for weddings. So the group of women celebrated 300 meters away. The villagers respect the instructions of the jihadists to avoid reprisals. It was only a group of men and teenagers who were targeted, but the groom is alive,” said one villager.

The French army announced on Tuesday that it had targeted terrorists, French media reported. A “patrol of fighter planes” of Barkhane was carried out airstrikes on “Sunday at around 3 pm” after an “intelligence operation that lasted several days,” according to Libération newspaper, which quoted a French military spokesperson. A spokesperson for Operation Barkhane did not respond to a request for comment from Sahelien.com.

In a press release published on Wednesday, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) spokesperson Jessica Brown said the organization “treated eight people seriously injured in attacks on the villages of Bounty and Kikara, central Mali, on January 3. The patients were treated at the MSF-supported Douentza referral health center and had gunshot wounds and wounds from explosions.”

“MSF sent two vehicles to transport the injured to the Douentza referral health center after local residents informed the team that there were people in need of urgent medical care,” Brown said.