PARIS, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- The French defense minister acknowledged the Malian army may have committed human-rights abuses as it fights Islamic militants.
Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, commenting Wednesday on a report by the International Federation for Human Rights, based in Paris, that executions and other human rights violations were being conducted by Malian soldiers, said there "was a risk" Mali's troops were engaged in misconduct.
France is among the nations sending troops to aid Mali's army against Islamic militants in control of the northern part of the country.
The rights group, known as FIDH, has called for an independent commission to investigate allegations of human-rights abuses, television news channel France 24 reported Wednesday.
A statement from FIDH released Wednesday alleged Malian troops were responsible for the executions and quick burials of 33 people since Jan. 10. It said the victims were accused of complicity with Islamic militants, in possession of weapons, lacking personal identification or "simply people targeted because of their belonging to certain ethnic groups, commonly called the 'light skins.'"