Published: Tue, June 11, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

'It's a tragedy': Scores killed in attack on central Mali village

'It's a tragedy': Scores killed in attack on central Mali village

BAMAKO-At least 95 people were killed in an overnight attack on an ethnic Dogon village in central Mali, local officials said on Monday, June 10, the latest bout of ethnic violence fuelling the country's security crisis. Some Peuhl leaders, however, have vowed to carry out reprisal attacks.

Firing indiscriminately, gunmen from the semi-nomadic Fulani ethnic group raided Sobane-Kou, a village inhabited by the Dogon, a rival tribe aligned to Mali's government.

The Malian government meanwhile expressed its condolences and said "every measure will be taken to arrest and punish those responsible for this bloodshed". "It shows a total and utter contempt for human life", Marie-Evelyne Petrus Barry, Amnesty International's west and central Africa director, said in a statement about Sunday's attack.

The Peuhl are accused of working alongside jihadists from the Islamic State of Greater Sahara organization to attack Dogon villages and prevent people from cultivating their land.

The Fulani, in their turn, suspect the Dogons of having close ties with Mali's military.

The groups have not been evenly matched. The government, giving a provisional toll, said 95 people had been killed, 19 were missing, numerous farm animals had been slaughtered and homes had been torched.

The United Nations mission in Mali, in a report dated 31 May, said the security situation in central Mali "continued to deteriorate".

The attackers entered the village of around 300 inhabitants and "started shooting, pillaging and burning", an official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Rural bands of hunters have "become paramilitary groups", arguing that they need to defend their communities if Malian security forces can not, Jean-Herve Jezequel with the International Crisis Group wrote after the March massacre.

"No-one was spared-women, children, elderly people", he added.

Mali's centre and north have experienced regular flare-ups of violence and attacks in the wake of a 2012 military coup that saw separatist rebel groups and later al-Qaeda-associated militants take control of the region. "The availability of weapons of war and the pretext of fighting jihadist groups have opened the floodgates to a level of ethnic-based violence that is without precedent in the region".

The unrest in central Mali has displaced some 60,000 people, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote.

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