Attack on Fulani Villagers in Central Mali Leaves More Than 130 Dead
Last Saturday, an attack on Fulani villagers in central Mali left 134 dead and 55 injured, including women and children. The attack left the village chief and his grandchildren dead. The victims of the massacre were reportedly “killed with guns and machetes,” and nearly all of the huts in the village were burned down.
The attack was carried out by armed men reportedly dressed as traditional hunters.
The hunters implicated in the attack are known as ethnic Dogon hunters who have long clashed with semi-nomadic Fulani herders — the targets in this attack. These clashes have been driven by disputes over access to land and water, but they have also veered into more dangerous territory.
The Dogon accuse the Fulani of having ties to jihadists. According to HRW, a Dogon militia leader claimed that the Malian army has been unable to protect their villages against attacks by jihadists; as such, the Dogon set up their own self-defence groups.
The Fulanis, on the other hand, claim to have come under attack from the Malian military.
The Malian government condemned the attacks, reiterating “its determination to make every effort to hunt down the perpetrators of this barbarity of another age and to punish them, in accordance with the laws of force.”
The government added that it will “continue to ensure the protection of the people, to recreate the conditions of true social cohesion and to promote national reconciliation.”
On Sunday, Mali’s government agreed to ban the group of hunters that it believes to be responsible for all of the destruction. President Ibrahim Boubacar and the Council of Ministers announced the dissolution of Dan Na Ambassagou, a so-called Dogon self-defense group that has been accused before of targeting members of the Fulani ethnic group. However, it was not specified whether the Dan Na Ambassagou was responsible for the attacks.
Over the last couple of months, the Mopti region of central Mali has seen repeated bouts of violence. According to UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore, “Mali’s children are paying the highest price for the intensifying violence in central Mali.”
“Since 2017, rising insecurity has led to an increase in the killing, maiming and recruitment of children,” she added. “Gender-based violence is on the rise.”
Saturday’s massacre took place as a delegation from the UN Security Council visited the Sahel region to assess the security situation in the area.
According to a UN spokesperson, Secretary-General António Guterres was “shocked and outraged” by news of Saturday’s attack and is “call[ing] on the Malian authorities to redouble their efforts to bring back peace and stability to central Mali.”