Mali Army Spokesman: Lone Soldier Killed 16 Islamic Preachers

Posted September 10th, 2012 at 8:50 am (UTC-5)
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A Malian army spokesman says a lone soldier was to blame for the killing of 16 Islamic preachers at a military checkpoint.

Spokesman Idrissa Traore told VOA on Monday the army is not responsible for the killings.

“It's not the Malian army,” said Traore. “… It was one soldier. He was captured and the investigation continues.”

The shooting took place overnight Saturday at a military post in the small community of Diabaly, more than 400 kilometers north of the capital, Bamako.

The preachers were from Mali and Mauritania and headed to a conference in Bamako.

Initial reports indicated soldiers opened fire after the group defied order to stop.

Traore said he does not think the killings will affect the army's effort to recapture northern Mali, which is under the control of Islamist militant groups.

The West African bloc ECOWAS has offered to send 3,000 troops to Mali to help stabilize the country and retake the north.

Mali's army lost control of the north to Tuareg separatists and Islamist militants in April, after renegade soldiers overthrew the government in Bamako. The militant groups seized full control of the north in June.