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Attackers on motorbikes kill 32 Malian villagers, local officials say

Malian jihadists on motorbikes, International Crisis Group 2019

BAMAKO (Reuters) - At least 32 civilians were killed in central Mali when unidentified armed men on motorbikes attacked ethnic Dogon farming villages on Wednesday, local authorities said.

The attackers targeted four villages in Mopti region, which has seen dozens of tit-for-tat ethnic massacres as well as jihadist raids over the past few years.

Moulaye Guindo, the mayor of the commune of Bankass, released a list of victims on Thursday that put the death toll at 32.

Other officials in the area told Reuters they believed the attacks were carried out by jihadists, who often say they are defending Fulani herders against rival Dogon farmers.

“Quite a lot of armed men attacked the village (of Gouari), firing at people. Fifteen bodies were buried this morning. There are also wounded,” a local official said by phone earlier

on Thursday, requesting anonymity for security reasons.

No group has claimed responsibility for the violence, which took place in an area around 30 km (19 miles) from the border with Burkina Faso.

A spokesman for the Malian army could not be reached for comment. The army has been criticised by rights groups and residents for failing to protect civilians in central Mali.

Mali has been in crisis since 2012 when al Qaeda-linked militants seized its desert north. French forces intervened the following year to drive them back, but militants linked to al Qaeda and the Islamic State have since regrouped and extended their operations into Burkina Faso and Niger.

The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), a consultancy that tracks political violence, says it recorded nearly 300 civilian fatalities in Mali in the first three months of 2020, a 90% increase over the previous quarter.

Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Mark Potter

© Reuters 2020

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