On Saturday, not less than 134 Fulani herders in central Mali were killed during a deadly attack that took place in the recent time in a region, already shocked by aggravating ethnic and jihadist violence. The attacks on the villages of Ogossagou and Welingara took place as a U.N. Security Council mission visited Mali looking for solutions to violence, which killed hundreds of civilians last year and is spreading across West Africa’s Sahel region very quickly.
Moulaye Guindo, mayor of the adjoining town of Bankass, stated that armed men, dressed as traditional Donzo hunters, surrounded and assaulted Ogossagou at about 4 a.m. (0400 GMT). He added that in another nearby Fulani village, Welingara, had also been attacked, causing “a number” of deaths, but he did not yet know the total number of deaths. According to security sources stated that among the dead includes a pregnant women, children as well as elderly people.
One Ogossagou resident, who asked not to be identified, stated that the attack appeared to be in punishment for an al Qaeda affiliate’s claim of accountability on Friday for a raid last week which killed 23 soldiers. That group stated that raid was payback for violence by Mali’s army and militiamen against the Fulani.
Jihadist groups associated to al Qaeda and Islamic State have oppressed ethnic rivalries in Mali and its neighbors Burkina Faso and Niger in past years to bolster recruitment and deliver vast enfold of territory virtually ungovernable.
French forces mediated in Mali, a former French colony, in 2013 to push back a jihadist progress from the desert north but the militants have since regrouped and extended their presence into central Mali and the neighboring nations.