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AP Interview: Mali investigating accusations that its soldiers are committing atrocities

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    Malian schoolgirls listen to their teacher as schools reopen in Gao, northern Mali, Monday Feb. 18, 2013. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)The Associated Press

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    A Malian schoolgirl listens to her teacher as schools reopen in Gao, northern Mali, Monday Feb. 18, 2013. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)The Associated Press

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    In sharp contrast with most mud homes found in Gao, a luxury house once occupied by reputed drug traffickers turned finance operatives for rebel jihadists seen through a broken window in Gao, northern Mali, Monday Feb. 18, 2013. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)The Associated Press

Mali's foreign minister says authorities in the West African country are investigating accusations of torture, killings and reprisals by its own soldiers fighting against suspected militants.

Concerns about abuses by Malian forces have mounted in recent weeks. Malian troops are fighting alongside French forces in a month-old operation to try to take back control of northern Mali from Islamist extremists who seized power last year.

Tieman Coulibaly told The Associated Press that four or five specific cases of "atrocities" by Malian troops are currently under formal investigation.

Asked whether Mali's weak military-led government is competent to carry out full and fair investigations of that kind, he said, "it's hard." He spoke Tuesday in Paris.

Witnesses and human rights groups say Malian troops are particularly targeting Arab and Tuareg populations.