Forty people, including nine soldiers, have been killed in a spate of attacks in central Mali, authorities said on Friday, with most of the deaths caused by interethnic violence in the deeply troubled region.
Thirty-one people were killed in an attack overnight in Ogossagou, a village mainly inhabited by Fulani people where 160 died in March last year in a massacre blamed on Dogon militiamen, the government said, raising the death toll.
About 30 gunmen carried out the new attack, village chief Aly Ousmane Barry said.
“Huts and crops were set alight, livestock was burned or taken away,” he said, vowing that the government would find the perpetrators.
A local government official, who requested anonymity, had earlier said that 28 people were missing.
He blamed the attack on a Dogon hunters’ group — an assertion that could be not be independently verified.
The official and Aly Ousmane Barry both said the attackers moved in several hours after government troops had pulled out of the area.
Later on Friday, eight Mali soldiers were killed and four others injured in an ambush in the central Gao region, the army said.
The Malian force also suffered “material damage,” the military said on social media sites, without indicating who had carried out the attack in the village of Bentia.
Also on Friday, a soldier was killed in an attack on a military camp in Mondoro, also in central Mali, security officials said.
The camp had already been hit before — as part of a joint raid by militants that also targeted the military camp of Boulkessy near the border with Burkina Faso, killing at least 25 soldiers.
Central Mali became gripped by ethnic violence after a jihadist revolt broke out in the north of the country in 2012.
The insurgency has claimed thousands of lives and spread to neighboring Niger and Burkina Faso.
Tit-for-tat attacks in central Mali flared after Fulani people, also called Peul, became associated with jihadists.
Led by a firebrand Islamic preacher, Amadou Koufa, a militia called the Katiba Macina recruited members from among the Fulani and has been accused of ethnically motivated attacks.
Other ethnic groups such as the Bambara or the Dogon began to form self-defense groups that have been accused of reprisal massacres.
In addition to the latest attack at Ogossagou, 14 Fulani were killed in central Mali last month.
About 75 Dogons were killed in the villages of Sobane Da, Gangafani and Yoro in June last year, in an attack blamed on Fulani militants.
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