ON VIDEO Plane with Wagner soldiers on board crashes

ON VIDEO | Plane with Wagner soldiers on board crashes in Mali

Mali’s ruling junta spoke on Wednesday of the loss of a lieutenant colonel who relatives said was killed aboard the plane that crashed in Gao, north, on Saturday, causing a high but unknown number of casualties.

This is the first mention of this event by the Malian authorities, who have remained completely silent since the events took place.

In its tribute to Lieutenant Colonel Moussa Traoré, the Malian army refrained from providing further details about the circumstances of his disappearance, saying only that he died on Saturday at the age of 62 “during an ordered flight duty.”

The official was actually on the transport plane that crashed Saturday, said family members and a military official, speaking on condition of anonymity given the blackout on the issue.

A video purporting to show the disaster has been circulating on social media since Wednesday. During the landing phase, we see a plane resembling a Soviet-designed Ilyushin 76 fail to stop at the end of the runway and plunge into a cloud of flames and smoke.

The origin of the video has not been officially identified.

Various officials said on Sunday that the plane belonged to the Malian army and was carrying Wagner members and that the number of people was high.

It is widely believed that the junta, which seized power by force in 2020, used its criticized actions to enlist the services of this Russian paramilitary company while breaking with the French military ally. Since then, she has also been driving forward the UN mission, which must have left the country by the end of 2023.

The junta denies working with Wagner and speaks of the presence of trainers from the Russian army who support them in the fight against the jihadists. The actions of these allies are subject to the greatest discretion. They are regularly accused of abuse.

The Malian authorities have not yet provided any information about the events in Gao.

Lt. Col. Traoré’s funeral took place on Tuesday in the presence of Defense Minister Col. Sadio Camara, who is considered to be close to Russia, and the chiefs of staff, the army said.

Lt. Col. Traoré participated in several internal and external missions and received various awards, she said. He also completed training as a senior mechanical engineering technician in Russia, she said. Several Malian officers were trained in Russia.