France may be guilty of a war crime for killing a vast majority of civilians in an airstrike on a wedding in a remote Malian village in January, according to the first-ever UN investigation into French military operations published on Tuesday.
At least 22 people were blown up and killed, including 19 civilians and three suspected members of a jihadist group, investigators said. Eight more civilians were injured.
“The group of individuals hit by the strike was overwhelmingly composed of civilians who are protected persons under international humanitarian law,” the 36-page report said.
“This strike raises significant concerns about compliance with the principles of the conduct of hostilities,” it added, slamming France for not taking enough precautions to ensure no civilians would be killed.
After interviewing 400 people including survivors, witnesses, family members and aid groups, the UN also said a wedding was taking place on the day of the airstrike, which the French government has repeatedly denied.
An individual with knowledge of the report told the Telegraph an earlier version accused French forces of a war crime due to its failure to take adequate measures to avoid the indiscriminate killing of civilians in Bounty.
The phrasing was later adjusted following pressure by the French government, they said.