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Mali: 21 bodies found in mass grave, Defense Ministry says

By Katarina Hoije, for CNN
updated 7:55 AM EST, Wed December 4, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The bodies are thought to be those of soldiers, a Ministry of Defense spokeswoman says
  • They are believed to have been killed after Mali's March 2012 coup
  • Investigators will seek to identify the men as they are removed from the mass grave
  • Coup leader Amadou Sanogo has been arrested, accused of complicity in kidnapping

Bamako, Mali (CNN) -- Malian authorities have found a mass grave containing 21 bodies thought to be soldiers killed while a junta chief was in power after a 2012 military coup, a Ministry of Defense spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Investigators found the bodies in a grave close to a military camp in the village of Diago, just north of Bamako, spokeswoman Alasane Diarra said.

Last week, Gen. Amadou Sanogo, who led the March 2012 coup, was arrested, charged with complicity in kidnapping.

A failed counter-coup shortly after he seized power pitted two army factions against each other: the green berets loyal to Sanogo and the red berets loyal to ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure.

"At the military camp in Diago, there were both green berets and red berets soldiers. We do not know which group the soldiers in the grave belonged to," Diarra said.

Investigations into alleged kidnapping and killings after the military takeover that plunged the West African country into chaos have been ongoing since April 30, 2012.

"The investigators have been working on the case since April, so just after the coup. They have known about the grave for a while, but when they finally went there and opened the grave, there were more bodies than they previously thought," Diarra said.

The bodies are all male and from different ethnic groups, she said.

As the bodies are removed from the grave, forensic investigators will start the process of identifying the men.

"Families of soldiers who disappeared during the coup will be asked to come and identify their family members," Diarra said.

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