More Than 100 Killed Amid Escalating Violence in Mali

More Than 100 Killed Amid Escalating Violence in Mali


Gunmen killed at least 110 Fulani herders in central Mali on Saturday, a local mayor said, in one of the deadliest such attacks in a region reeling from worsening ethnic and jihadist violence.

The assaults on the villages of Ogossagou and Welingara took place as a United Nations Security Council mission visited Mali to try to find solutions to violence that killed hundreds of civilians last year and is spreading across West Africa’s Sahel region.

Moulaye Guindo, mayor of the nearby town of Bankass, said armed men dressed as traditional Donzo hunters, encircled and attacked Ogossagou, killing about 60 people.

“The body count continues,” Guindo told Reuters by telephone from Ogossagou.

He said another nearby Fulani village, Welingara, had also been attacked, causing “a number” of deaths but that he did not yet know how many.

One Ogossagou resident said the attack appeared to be in retaliation for an Al Qaeda affiliate’s claim of responsibility on Friday for a raid last week that killed 23 soldiers.

Jihadist groups linked to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State have exploited ethnic rivalries in Mali and its neighbors Burkina Faso and Niger to lift recruitment and render vast swaths of territory virtually ungovernable.

French forces intervened in Mali, a former French colony, in 2013 to push back a jihadist advance from the desert north, but the militants have since regrouped and expanded their presence into central Mali and the neighboring countries.

Some 4,500 French troops are based in the wider Sahel, most of them in Mali. The United States also has hundreds of troops in the region. The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali has more than 13,000 troops, according to the figures released this month.

Security Council ambassadors met with President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and other government officials on Friday evening to discuss the violence and the slow implementation of a 2015 peace agreement with non-Islamist armed groups. It is the fourth time that a Security Council delegation has visited the country since United Nations peacekeeping forces were deployed to Mali in 2013.

Kacou Houadja Léon Adom, Ivory Coast’s ambassador to the United Nations, said the visit was essential before the peacekeeping mission’s mandate was renewed this summer.

“It was good for us to come in person, so as to get a first-hand impression of the realities on the ground,” he told reporters on Friday, “and to assess how we can direct our efforts in order to ensure that we get what is needed for the Malians.”

Since the deployment of United Nations peacekeeping forces in Mali in 2013, nearly 200 troops have been killed, making it the most dangerous peacekeeping mission in the world.



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