Attackers believed to be Fulani raided a rival Dogon village in central Mali, killing at least 95 people and burning houses to the ground, local and government officials said.
Violence between Dogon hunters and Fulani herders killed hundreds since January, including an attack in March in which gunmen killed more than 150 Fulani, one of the worst acts of bloodshed in Mali’s recent history.
Sunday’s raid took place in Sangha district, where Fulanis from neighbouring Bankass district descended on a Dogon village after dark, Bankass mayor Moulaye Guindo told Reuters.
“Armed men, apparently Fulani, fired at the population and burnt the village,” said Siriam Kanoute, an official for nearby Bandiagara.
Sangha mayor Ali Dolo told Reuters 95 charred bodies were found with the death toll likely to rise as the village was still ablaze.
“Out of a population of around 300 only 50 responded to the roll call,” said Dolo.
A security ministry spokesman confirmed the attack and said the assailants were not identified. Government later vowed to find those responsible.
“The government of Mali presents its deepest condolences to mourning families and assures all measures will be taken to arrest and punish the authors of this carnage,” the communications ministry said in a statement.
Malian authorities have come under fire for failing to disarm militias or beat back Islamist insurgents. Rights groups accuse the Malian army of conducting extrajudicial killings, kidnappings, torture and arbitrary arrests against suspected sympathisers of jihadist groups.
Violence between Fulani and rival communities compounds an already dire security situation in Mali’s semi-arid and desert regions, used as a base by groups with ties to al Qaeda and Islamic State.
The groups exploit ethnic rivalries in Mali and neighbours Burkina Faso and Niger to boost recruitment and extend their influence over vast swathes of territory.
The Malian government is seen as having lost its grip on parts of the country with the fight against jihadists outsourced to vigilante groups with scores to settle.
The Dogon suspect the Fulani of harbouring Islamist militants, charges the Fulani deny.