Fulani village attack leaves 23 dead

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At least 23 people are dead and 300 missing after an attack on a Fulani herders’ village in central Mali where communal violence surged in recent months, a local mayor said.

Two other Fulani communities were targeted on Sunday, amid a string of deadly assaults between herders and Dogon farmers who have long fought over land and resources but whose rivalry has been stoked this year by the growing presence of armed Islamist groups.

After raiding Saran village, the attackers went on to another village Bidi, but people had fled, said Harouna Sankare, mayor of nearby Ouenkoro, who blamed the attack on Dogon hunters.

“Since they didn’t find anybody in Bidi they burned the village and houses and attacked cattle,” he said.

Other local officials confirmed the attack but did not share casualties. Neither the central authorities nor the army were reachable for comment.

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s government vowed to disarm the militias but struggles to do so.

Tit-for-tat violence between rival communities escalated this year. In March, suspected Dogon militiamen killed more than 150 Fulani in central Mali, one of the worst acts of bloodshed in the country’s recent history. Raids on Dogon villages in June killed over 40 people.

Instability is fuelled further by jihadist militants, who use northern and central Mali as launchpads to stage attacks across the Sahel.

Elsewhere in central Mali, 12 civilians including a baby were killed on Sunday when the vehicle they were travelling in hit a landmine. Local mayor Issiaka Ganame said no passengers survived. It was not clear who laid the mine, but jihadist groups are known to deploy this kind of ordnance in the region.