Unidentified gunmen on motorcycles attacked two villages in central Mali, killing at least 41 people in a part of the country where ethnic reprisal attacks surged in recent months, a local mayor said.
The attacks on Monday on Yoro and Gangafani 2 compound a security situation in central Mali, where ethnic militias regularly kill civilians from rival groups and Islamist militants are also active.
The victims of Monday’s raids were mostly Dogons, said Issiaka Ganame, the mayor of Yoro, where 24 people were killed. Another 17 died in Gangafani 2.
“About 100 unidentified armed men circulating on motos suddenly invaded Yoro and fired on the population,” Ganame told Reuters. “Then they descended on Gangafani 2, about 15 km away.”
Tit-for-tat violence in recent months largely pitted Dogon hunters against Fulani herders. Attackers believed to be Fulani raided a Dogon village last week, killing at least 35 people.
In March, suspected Dogon militiamen killed more than 150 Fulani in two villages in central Mali, one of the worst acts of bloodshed in the country’s recent history.
President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s government vowed to disarm the militias but struggles to do so. The groups are looked to for security by local communities who do not trust government to protect them.
On Tuesday, two labour unions representing civil servants called on state administrators in Mopti region, where most attacks occurred, to leave their posts and decamp to the regional capital due to death threats.
“President Keita said he was going to disarm the militias. We take note and await disarmament of the militias and implementation of protection measures,” said Ousmane Christian Diarra, secretary-general of the National Syndicate of Civil Administrators.