Suspected terrorists kill 95

Suspected terrorists kill 95

At least 95 people have been killed in an overnight attack on an ethnic Dogon village in central Mali, according to local officials.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but the massacre, targeting a village inhabited by the Dogon community, bore the hallmarks of tit-for-tat ethnic attacks that have claimed hundreds of lives.

A security source at the massacre site in the village of Sobane-Kou told AFP that "a Dogon village has been virtually wiped out".

The Malian government meanwhile expressed its condolences and said "every measure will be taken to arrest and punish those responsible for this bloodshed".

Intercommunal violence has risen steadily in central Mali over the last several years, exacerbated by the presence of Islamic extremists who have moved south from their strongholds in the arid north.

On Monday a prominent group representing the Peuhl community, Tabital Pulaaku, issued a statement blaming the "cycle of violence" on the absence of state authority and impunity for perpetrators of attacks. "They first surrounded the village and then attacked - anyone who tried to escape was killed".

Sunday's raid took place in the Sangha district, where Fulanis from the neighbouring Bankass district descended on a Dogon village after dark, Bankass Mayor Moulaye Guindo told Reuters. The Mali government blamed "suspected terrorists" for the incursion, the BBC reported.

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The Dogon also accuse Fulanis of ties to jihadist groups.

Human Rights Watch has said the Dan Na Ambassagou militia has been implicated in scores of deadly attacks over the past year and Mali's president has vowed to eliminate it.

"Armed men, apparently Fulanis, fired at the population and burned the village", said Siriam Kanoute, an official for the nearby town of Bandiagara.

The latest massacre is a reminder that the conflict has no easily defined good or bad sides, the head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, said in a statement.

"The availability of weapons of war and the pretext of fighting jihadist groups have opened the floodgates to a level of ethnic-based violence that is without precedent in the region", he said.

The unrest in central Mali has displaced some 60,000 people, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote, adding that he was "appalled" by the surge in violence and its effect on civilians.

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