Issued on: Modified:
Unidentified armed men massacred 31 civilians in simultaneous attacks on several Mali villages this week, then killed nine soldiers responding to the assault as violence surges in the country's conflict-wracked centre.
Clashes between the ethnic communities of Fulani, nomadic herders, and Dogon traditional hunters have increased in recent months, with community-based militias — initially formed for defence — now launching attacks.
Armed uniformed men travelling in pick-up trucks attacked four Dogon villages on Wednesday, one local official said by telephone, speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons.
The attack left at least 30 dead, including women, children, and the elderly, while others were missing, the official added.
"From 3 to 9 pm, nobody came to our rescue," said Youssouf Tiessogue, an elder from Gouari, one of the villages attacked.
Deploring the army's "inaction," he said: "It is always late and never confronts the bandits even if we tell them where they are."
A senior government official called the attacks "barbaric".
Officials did not immediately blame any group.
A military unit was dispatched to the area, and helped bury 31 bodies on Wednesday, army spokesman Colonel Diarran Kone told AFP.
On Thursday, the army received information about a new attack and sent the unit to Gouari, he said.
"When it arrived at around 8 pm, the village seemed deserted, there were practically no signs of life," he said.
"Just at the entrance, the FAMa (Malian Armed Forces) walked into an ambush," he said, adding that nine soldiers were killed and two wounded.
The attacks were not far from the village of Ogossagou, where 31 civilians were killed in February and 160 were butchered last year — all Fulani.
Unrest in central Mali has killed nearly 600 civilians this year, the United Nations said last month.
Mali's war erupted in 2012 when Tuareg rebels supported by armed Islamists took over theRead More – Source