Central Mali: dozens of villagers killed in latest wave of attacks

Daily life in an IDP village in Mopti region Daily life in an IDP village in Mopti region MINUSMA/Marco Dormino

03 July 2020

Armed men in military fatigues attacked four different villages in Mopti region, leaving more than 30 civilians dead and several wounded

On Wednesday, July 1 an unspecified number of armed men attacked four villages in the communes of Tori and Dialassagou in the “cercle” of Bankass, 30 km far from the Burkina Faso border. The attackers, according to witnesses interviewed by Amnesty International, came in a convoy of dozens of motorcycles and pick-ups, wearing military uniforms. By the time the security forces arrived, armed assailants had already left the area. The following day, local officials reported the killing of 32 civilians across the four villages.

Since the Tuareg rebellion broke out in 2012 and despite massive international military presence, Mali has been caught in a relentless spiral of violence. The region of Mopti is now the epicenter of a deadly series of intercommunal clashes, which are claiming an appalling number of civilian lives. The jihadist groups active in the country have been exploiting the existing tensions between the Dogon and Fulani communities. As climate change and rising insecurity exacerbated the disputes over water sources and land ownership, jihadist militants have concentrated their recruitment among the Fulani, consequently perceived by the Dogon as a threat to the own survival of their community. From January to June 2021, the United Nations Stabilization Mission to Mali (MINUSMA) has recorded 81 incidents of intercommunal fighting, resulting in the death of 292 people.

Most worryingly, MINUSMA has brought to light the magnitude of the abuses perpetrated by Malian army and security forces. The Human Rights and Protection Division has documented 230 extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary killings, 47 of which have presumably occurred under the command of the Joint Force of the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5-Sahel). On this matter, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, has called on the Malian government for prompt investigations to be carried out and perpetrators to be properly held accountable.

A few days after Bachelet’s address, on June 30, the G5-Sahel was meeting in Nouakchott, Mauritania. In the summit’s final communiqué, heads of state committed to investigate into any allegations of human rights violations perpetrated by defense and security forces deployed in Mali. In the meantime, the country’s political situation becomes increasingly tense, as demonstrators keep pouring in the streets of Bamako, asking for President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s resignation. 


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Author: Ester Zangrandi

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