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Human rights groups have called on the governments of France and Mali to carry out an independent investigation into the French airstrike in Mali that has resulted in dozens of civilian casualties.

On Tuesday, the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) published a report claiming that 19 civilians were killed on January 3 near the village of Bounty, when two French fighter jets dropped bombs on a group of people identified as Islamist militants, reported Sputnik.

The French Ministry of Defence has, however, rejected these findings, arguing that the attack targeted an “armed terrorist group”.

As per the reports by the UN, Mali’s Defence Ministry has also previously denied the deaths of civilians, claiming that the strike was delivered “during a joint operation with French forces”.

“We demand that light on the January 3 airstrike must be shed, and join the MINUSMA recommendations that called on the French and Malian authorities to carry out an independent and transparent investigation into this incident,” the human rights groups said in a joint communique on Thursday, further said in a report.

Seven human rights organisations signed the communique, including the Malian Association for Human Rights, the International Federation for Human Rights, and the French branch of the Oxfam charity.

Earlier in January, at least 19 civilians had died after French fighter jets dropped bombs on a gathering in central Mali, according to a new investigation from the United Nations, raising fresh concerns about an increasingly deadly conflict, the Washington Post reported. (ANI)