The United Nations has send human rights experts to central Mali to probe into a weekend massacre of at least 157 villagers, which is seen as one of the lowest acts of bloodshed in a nation plagued by ethnic violence.
The strike, in which women and children were burned in their homes by gunmen, increased the fight between Dogon hunters and Fulani herders, which killed hundreds of civilians in 2018 and is extending across the Sahel, the barren region between the Sahara desert to the north and Africa’s savannas to the south.
On Wednesday, U.N. mission spokesman, Olivier Salgado tweeted that a team of 10 human rights specialists, along with a child protection agent and two MINUSMA investigators have been restationed to the Mopti region to carry out a special investigation into Saturday’s horrific incidence. MINUSMA refers to the U.N. mission in Mali.
International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda stated this week that the atrocities could come under ICC jurisdiction and that a team of delegate would be sent to Mali. A U.N. Security Council mission was currently visiting the West African state to look for solutions to ethnic violence when the massacre happened.
An official from adjoining town stated on Saturday that armed men dressed as Dogon hunters’ attacked villages inhabited by Fulani herders. The Dogon doubt the Fulani of protecting Islamist rebels, a charge the Fulani dismisses.
The assault came less than a week after an Islamist attack on an army post, which killed around 23 soldiers, also in Mali’s central region. An al Qaeda affiliate claimed accountability of the attack. On Tuesday, in a statement, MINUSMA stated that a Dogon village in the region was also charged on the night of the Fulani massacre that left at least four people dead.
U.N. human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani on Tuesday stated that 219 people had been killed by anti-jihadist vigilante groups in Mali since the start of this year.
Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita answered to the assault on the Fulanis by dispersing an anti-jihadist vigilante group known as Dan Na Amassagou, whose Dogon fighters are suspected of being behind the massacre.