Civilians die in Mali ethnic violence

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Armed men killed 37 Fulani civilians in central Mali, where ethnic violence cost hundreds of lives last year, government said.

Violence between Fulani and rival communities compounded an already dire security situation in Mali’s semi-arid and desert regions, used as a base by jihadist groups with ties to al Qaeda and Islamic State.

Government said in a statement the attackers, dressed as traditional Donzo hunters, raided Koulogon in central Mopti region and some victims were children.

Moulage Guindo, the mayor of Bankass, the nearest town, said the attack occurred around the time of the first call to prayer of the new year and targeted the Fulani part of Koulogon.

He said another part of Koulogon is mostly inhabited by Dogon, an ethnic group to which the Donzos are linked, less than a kilometre away.

Mali has been in turmoil since Tuareg rebels and loosely allied Islamists took over its north in 2012, prompting French forces to intervene to push them back the following year.

Islamists have since regained a foothold in the north and centre, tapping into ethnic rivalries to recruit new members.