Thu, Jun 13, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Malian PM visits massacre site

TIT-FOR-TAT:A village has been ‘virtually wiped out’ in an attack on the Dogon ethnic group, less than three months after the killing of nearly 160 Fulani by a Dogon group

AFP, BAMAKO

Malian Prime Minister Boubou Cisse on Tuesday visited the site of one of the nation’s worst massacres, pledging to step up security and reconciliation efforts after an attack that left scores dead and stoked fears.

The hours-long assault targeted a village in a largely ethnic Dogon enclave in central Mali.

It bore the hallmarks of the violence, much of it driven by ethnic tensions, which has claimed hundreds of lives in the past 18 months.

Ninety-five people were killed, according to an early toll that remained unconfirmed on Tuesday.

Cisse paid tribute to the “innocent victims of the discord and the hate,” a government statement said.

“All the victims of the horror and the barbarism remind us of the responsibility incumbent upon us as leaders to reinforce and accelerate security, economic and political efforts for peace and reconciliation,” he said.

The attack on the village of Sobane Da — also called Sobane-Kou — began on Sunday evening and continued into the night, witnesses said.

Survivors described attackers arriving on motorbikes and in trucks, and surrounding the village of about 300 people.

They murdered anyone who tried to escape and torched their homes, the survivors said.

On Monday, a security source said that the Dogon village had been “virtually wiped out.”

The killings came less than three months after nearly 160 members of the Fulani ethnic group were slaughtered by a group identified as Dogon.

Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita cut short a visit to Switzerland and was expected to return to Bamako on Tuesday.

The assailants “opened fire on anything that moved,” village chief Gouno Dara said. “They then set fire to the storehouses, the homes, and took the sheep and the cattle. We have nothing left. Pregnant woman are among the victims, and children, too. We have lost everything.”

Despite military help from France and the UN, Mali’s government is struggling to quell violence that began in 2012, sparked by radical Islamic and Tuareg militias.

Attacks spread to central Mali, an ethnic mosaic, after a predominantly Fulani militant group led by preacher Amadou Koufa emerged in 2015.

Perceptions that the Fulani ethnic group as a whole was involved in the violence fueled tensions with other ethnic groups such as Bambara and Dogon, and tit-for-tat strife followed.

The Fulani are primarily cattle breeders and traders, while the Bambara and Dogon are traditionally sedentary farmers.

The French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs called for Bamako to “redouble efforts in the center of the country to quickly put an end to the spiral of intercommunal violence.”

Malian researcher Ousmane Diallo said that the details of the attack suggested “jihadist methods,” but added that the reality might be more complex and that the attackers’ motivations remained unclear.

There are about 14,700 troops and police deployed in Mali, which ranks as the most dangerous UN mission, with 125 peacekeepers killed in attacks since in 2013.

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