Malian soldiers killed by a French military strike in northern Mali in October were deserters who had joined a militant group.
A French source close to the matter said on Tuesday this contradicted comments from the Malian Defence Ministry, which said that the soldiers killed in the October 23rd strike, a raid on a camp of the Ansar Dine militant group, had been its hostages.
The French source said the raid was carried “on the basis of detailed intelligence against a camp that included Malians who had joined the Islamist ranks.
The source accused Malian authorities of spreading propaganda in the run-up to presidential elections, which are scheduled for November 2018.
The French army previously said that 15 members of Ansar Dine, which is loosely affiliated to other militant groups operating in northern Mali, were taken “out of action” in the raid.