Human rights group, Amnesty International says Islamist groups in West Africa’s Sahel region have been using illegal weapons manufactured in Europe – particularly in Serbia, a study carried out by the group has revealed.
The illegal weapons are also used by pro-government militias in the region such as Dan na Ambassagou in Mali and the VDP in Burkina Faso, Amnesty says.
The groups using the weapons regularly get them from national armies during attacks on barracks or from soldiers killed in combat, according to the study published on Tuesday.
Amnesty International says it has analysed more than 400 photos and videos disseminated by the Sahelian branch of Islamic Group and by al-Qaeda affiliate Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM).
It says most of the weapons on display are old Soviet-era Kalashnikovs, and in 12 cases, it has identified newer weapons (M70AB2, M92 and M05 machine guns) used by fighters and made by a Serbian company, Zastava.
The organisation points out that France, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic also export arms to the Sahel.
It has called on these countries, as well as the Sahelian governments that receive these weapons, to better monitor their use.