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The Malian government has promised to investigate allegations of human rights abuses by its soldiers.

France has said that it eventually wants to hand over responsibility for the mission to the Malian army and other African counterparts.

Friday’s reports also cited alleged human rights abuses committed by the Islamists. Human Rights Watch said Islamist rebels had killed at least seven Malian soldiers.

“One begged for his life saying, ‘Please, in the name of God.’ but they held him down and slit his throat,” a witness told HRW. “Two days later, as we picked up the dead soldiers to bury them, the Islamists saw that five of them were still living. Most were gravely wounded but they were still breathing and should have been given a chance to live. Instead the Islamists killed them — one after the other.”