Dozens killed in attack on village in central Mali

Mali has been plagued by al-Qaeda-linked and ethnically based armed groups, but forced out UN peacekeepers.

Unidentified armed men have killed approximately 40 people in an attack on a village in central Mali, local officials said.

The attack took place on Monday in Djiguibombo village in the Mopti region, one of several areas in Mali’s north and centre where groups linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) have been active for more than a decade.

“It was a very serious attack, armed men surrounded the village and shot at people,” Moulaye Guindo, the mayor of Bankass town, told the Reuters news agency.

While he did not provide a death toll, two local officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said about 40 people were killed.

“It was carnage, they surrounded the village where there was a wedding … There was panic, some people managed to flee, but many were killed, most of them men,” said one of the officials.

A local youth representative told the AFP news agency that the attack began before nightfall and “lasted around three hours”.

“Many inhabitants fled towards Bandiagara [town]. Those who stayed were not even able to bury the dead properly,” he said.

The officials did not identify the attackers, and no group has claimed responsibility.

Groups aligned with al-Qaeda and ISIL have operated in Mali since 2015, seizing territory and making swaths of the country ungovernable.

The violence that started in the north spread to the country that year, when Katiba Macina, an al-Qaeda-affiliated group, was established and led by Fulani preacher Amadou Kouffa.

A military government seized power after a 2020 coup, promising to tackle the rising insecurity, but attacks remain rife. The military has also been accused of rights abuses, according to international human rights groups.

In December, the United Nations mission in Mali – known as the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) – officially ended a 10-year deployment in a pullout ordered by Mali’s military government.

Since the 2020 coup, Mali’s military rulers have broken off their alliances with France and European partners while turning politically and militarily towards Russia.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies