At least 18 civilians were killed in two related attacks last week in central Mali, the United Nations MINUSMA peacekeeping mission said, as the death toll from fighting between local hunters and herders climbs.
MINUSMA did not identify the assailants in the attacks on a Dogon ethnic community in Mopti region.
The region has been engulfed in a conflict between Dogon hunters and Fulani herders that killed hundreds of civilians in 2018 and is spreading across the Sahel, the arid region between the Sahara desert to the north and Africa’s savannas to the south.
MINUSMA said a number of Dogons were killed in an ambush on Wednesday, while other members of the same community were killed on Thursday as they tried to retrieve the bodies from the previous attack. A Fulani civilian was killed, it said.
“The UN urges authorities to redouble efforts to stop this cycle of inter-communal violence, whose recurrence is worrying in an already alarming security context,” MINUSMA chief Mahamat Saleh Annadif said in a statement.
Malian authorities have come under fire for failing to disarm militias or beat back Islamist insurgents capitalising on spiralling communal conflicts to recruit new members and extend their reach in the Sahel.
The latest attacks follow a March massacre of at least 157 Fulani villagers in Mopti, one of the worst acts of bloodshed in the region in living memory.
Escalating violence led to the April resignation of the entire Malian government.
The largely Saharan nation has been in turmoil since Tuaregs and allied jihadists took control of more than half the country in a rebellion in 2012, prompting French forces to intervene to push them back the following year.