Al-Qaeda denies killing 132 civilians in horrific Mali massacre
The Malian government has blamed Macina Katiba jihadists for the mass killing in Diallassagou and two surrounding villages, and says it has carried out air strikes against the group in the country's centre.
"The mujahideen (fighters) did not kill civilians and that is not their methodology," the jihadist grouping said in a statement Thursday, according to the SITE monitor of radical groups.
It claimed it only entered one village of the three reported in the media.
Its fighters went to Diallassagou to look for villagers believed to have cooperated with Malian soldiers and to have contributed to the death of "many Muslims", it said, and fired in the air when villagers came out to protest their arrival.
It denied having torched shops or taken the vehicles of "innocent people", but said it seized the property of an unknown number of people it arrested.
It said those it detained were referred to a so-called "regional Sharia committee" implementing its version of Islamic law.
The massacre in and around Diallassagou was one of the worst civilian killings in Mali in recent years.
The Sahel country has since 2012 been rocked by jihadist insurgencies.
Violence began in the north and then spread to the centre and to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.