Mali: Sévaré attack on Wagner group

Brussels 28.04.2023 Founder and boss of Russian private military company Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has defended his company’s activities in Africa, insisting that his involvement on the continent is mainly to defeat terrorism and help countries liberate their territories from insurgents.

With the sarcastic tone that characterizes his announcements to the press, Prigojine answered, Thursday, April 27, of the Russian social network Telegram, to a question from the media Live24 relating to a declaration of the British MPs. The latter insist Wagner to be declared a “terrorist organization”, because of its “destructive activities in Sudan, Darfur and the Sahel”.

The Wagner founder was quick to applaud “a paradigm shift” .

“Wagner Private Military Company (PMC) has fought ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and other terrorist organizations everywhere, and with great success,” he said. “Besides, in Mali, the EI [Islamic State, editor’s note] and Al-Qaeda have joined forces to fight against the SMP Wagner. If Wagner is recognized as a terrorist organization, I think we should balance the system. ISIS and Al-Qaeda should then become humanitarian missions: organize meetings, invite the public, children, and, perhaps the British Parliament would be a very good place for that”.

This is the first time that the Russian billionaire has admitted so clearly that Wagner operates in Mali.

However Prigozhin denied that any of his fighters were among casualties in a jihadist-claimed attack in central Mali.

The Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM) has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in Sevare on Saturday, saying dozens of Malian soldiers and Russian “mercenaries” had been killed or wounded.

“I can say that, according to my information, there were absolutely no (Wagner) casualties in Sevare,” Prigozhin said on social media, in response to a question from AFP.

“Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda and other organisations try to brag, but they’ve been weak for several years and are unable to attack anyone,” he said, referring to the GSIM’s Arab name, commonly transcribed as Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM).

Wagner’s presence has been reported in conflict zones including Ukraine, Syria, Libya, Mali, and the Central African Republic, where it has been suspected of abuses by the UN experts.

The Mali junta began working with what it calls Russian instructors from the Wagner group in 2022.

“On the terrorists’ side, from what I know, there are heavy losses. The Malian army has excellent control in Mali,” Prigozhin said.

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