DAKAR, Senegal – Amnesty International is calling on the Malian government to release five adolescents held by the military for up to seven months. An Amnesty delegation met the five teenagers, aged between 15 and 17, at a military camp in Mali's capital.
One of the five was a child soldier conscripted by the Movement for Oneness and Jihad, an Islamic extremist group linked to al-Qaida-linked which ruled part of northern Mali last year. Amnesty said the 15-year-old joined because his family was desperately poor and the jihadists were paying salaries. The group said he deserted after not being paid and was arrested by Malian soldiers, who burned his arms with a cigarette.
Amnesty said the other four adolescents were grabbed by the military and accused of links to the armed groups.