Tue, Mar 26, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Mali sacks senior officers and militia after massacre

AFP, BAMAKO

Mali’s government on Sunday announced the sacking of senior military officers and the dissolution of an ethnic militia, a day after the massacre of more than 130 Fulani villagers, including women and children.

Malian Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga said new military chiefs would be named, and that the Dan Nan Ambassagou association, composed of Dogon hunters, had been dissolved.

The dissolution of the militia was to send a clear message, Maiga told journalists: “The protection of the population will remain the monopoly of the state.”

Survivors of Saturday’s attack said ethnic Dogon hunters carried out the deadly raid in Ogossagou, a village in central Mali inhabited by the Fulani community.

While local attacks are fueled by accusations of Fulani herders grazing cattle on Dogon land and disputes over access to land and water, the area is also troubled by Islamic extremist influence.

Maiga did not name the senior officers sacked, but Malian Ministry of Defense sources said they were the Armed Forces Chief of General Staff M’Bemba Moussa Keita, and chiefs of the army and the air force.

The announcement came hours after an emergency meeting called by Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

At least 136 men, women and children were killed in the attack, according to a “provisional toll,” public television ORTM said late on Sunday.

The television showed images of burned huts and livestock and shell casings in the village.

The victims were shot or hacked to death with machetes, a security source said.

A government delegation led by Malian Minister of Justice Tiena Coulibaly on Sunday went to the site of the massacre.

They were sent by the president to “tell the people of Ogossagou that what happened here is unacceptable and that it will not go unpunished,” Coulibaly said.

The UN International Children’s Emergency Fund said “Malian children are paying a heavy price for the intensification of violence.”

“Growing insecurity since 2017 has led to an increase in murders, mutilations and the recruitment of children,” it said.

The massacre took place as a delegation from the UN Security Council visited the Sahel region to assess the extremist threat.

The UN mission in Mali provided air support to deter further attacks and assisted with the evacuation of the injured.

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