Sixteen Muslim preachers have been killed in Mali. The Muslim preachers were on their way to attend a religious conference in Bamako. However, they were killed in Diabaly. The dead include at least 12 nationals of Mauritania.
The Malian and Mauritanian governments on Sunday confirmed the killings of sixteen Muslim preachers in central Mali. The preachers were on their way to attend a religious conference when they were shot dead. Certain reports have indicated that the men's long beards aroused the suspicion of Mali's military. They confused them for the extremists who have taken over the nation's north.
The Muslim preachers were on their way to attend a religious conference in Bamako. However they were shot in Diabaly.
In a statement released by the Mauritanian government, confirming the death of their 12 Muslim preachers, the government blamed Malian security forces for the deaths. A Mali police official and a relative of the victims also confirmed this report.
According to ABC News, the statement released through the Mauritanian official news agency states, "A group exercising the activity of preaching, which included 12 Mauritanians, were killed Sunday by Malian security forces. According to an official source, Mauritanian officials are in touch with Malian authorities in order to get more information on the circumstances of this affair and also to repatriate the bodies of the Mauritanians who were killed."
A statement was also released by the government of Mali on Sunday. The statement confirmed that 16 people had been killed and out of the killed, eight were Malian nationals and eight Mauritanians. However, the Malian government did not acknowledge that the Malian security forces had carried out the execution.
The statement states, "In the name of the people of Mali, the government deeply regrets this incident. The government has ordered that an investigation be immediately launched, the results of which will be communicated to the public and the international community."
Mohamed Bashir, a relative of the victims, said he received a phone call from a customs officer near Diabaly, telling him that the Muslim preachers had aroused the suspicion of the Malian military.
It seems highly likely that this incident will inflame tensions between the Islamists controlling the north and the government-held south.