The Washington PostThe Washington Post

Civilian killings soar as Russian mercenaries join fight in West Africa

By Danielle Paquette, Joyce Sohyun Lee and Jon Swaine

23 May 2022 · 7 min read

The man knew what to expect from Islamist fighters. They had appeared at his door for years, demanding money or livestock - the taxes he paid to survive. Then one morning in March, the threat in his rural community suddenly had a confusing new face: White men in military fatigues, yelling in a language he did not recognize.

"They were shooting people. People in their homes," he said. "Everywhere, bodies were dropping to the ground."

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