Villagers in central Mali said six people found dead in a mass grave last month were arrested by the military three days earlier, an Amnesty International report said.
The grave, uncovered in the Mopti region on March 25, is the latest in a spate of killings and kidnappings ahead of a July presidential election, rights groups say are being conducted by the army against suspected sympathisers of jihadist groups.
The Malian government and military did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Government acknowledges some abuses by its forces in the past but rejects many allegations made by rights groups.
“Civilians in Mali are living in fear,” said Amnesty International’s West Africa researcher Gaetan Mootoo. “We urge Malian authorities to investigate reports of enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings of civilians in the central region.”
Islamist insurgents seized control of Mali’s northern desert in 2012 before being driven back by a French-led military intervention a year later. They have since regrouped and carried out attacks further south, winning recruits by playing on local grievances.
In Tuesday’s report, Amnesty said 65 people were killed by improvised explosives used by armed groups since the start of the year, raising concerns about government’s ability to conduct presidential elections planned for July 29.
The UN’s independent expert on the human rights situation in Mali reported in February at least 43 people were victims of “enforced disappearance” by security forces during anti-militant operations between May and June last year.
Mali’s opposition SADI party accused the army of executing seven civilians attending a religious celebration in Nangarabakan in the Segou region.