Troops Killed Over 40 Civilians In Burkina Faso – Groups

(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 03, 2020 Burkina Faso soldiers patrol aboard a pick-up truck on the road from Dori to the Goudebo refugee camp.  OLYMPIA DE MAISMONT / AFP)

 

Two local rights groups on Sunday accused Burkina Faso soldiers of massacring more than 40 villagers in the country’s deeply troubled north.

The landlocked Sahel state is in the grip of a seven-year-old insurgency that has claimed more than 2,000 lives and forced some 1.9 million people to leave their homes.

The insurgency has been concentrated in the north and east, led by assailants suspected to have links with Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State group, but other regions have not been spared.

A Burkina Faso’s soldier patrols to ensure security measures during Burkina Faso’s cycling tour, in Ouahigouya.  AFP)

 

The Collective Against Immunity and Stigmatisation of Communities (CISC) said the incident took place early this month in the village of Taffogo in Tougouri, citing several eyewitness accounts.

“There were many cases of kidnapping followed by summary executions,” it said.

“In all, more than 40 corpses were discovered on the road between Taffogo and Bouroum,” it said. “All the people had their hands tied and were blindfolded.”

It said the attackers were members of the military “dressed in black clothes and hooded”.

The Observatory of Human Dignity said “more than 50 unarmed civilians” were kidnapped on the road to Bouroum by soldiers.

“Nearly all the victims were Fulani, including women and children,” referring to a mainly Muslim ethnic group of semi-nomadic herders spread across West Africa.

The state does not have control over more than 40 percent of Burkina’s territory, according to official data.

The Observatory said government troops had “resumed the anti-terrorist fight by simply exterminating villages occupied by a certain community”.

The Burkinabe army had denied repeated accusations of rights abuse, saying the perpetrators were armed groups using military materiel.

AFP

Amotekun Corps Arrest Persons In Connection With Owo Church Attack

A file photo of Amotukn corps during an operation in Ondo State recently.

 

The Amotekun Corps in Ondo State have arrested a number of persons in connection with the massacre of worshippers at St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State.

The Commander of the Corp, Adetunji Adeleye made this disclosure while addressing newsmen in Akure, the state capital.

Adeleye, however, did not give the actual figure of the suspects arrested, but the corps leader was optimistic that everyone who was involved in the Owo Attack would be brought to book.

When contacted for confirmations, the Ondo State Police Command through its spokesperson, SP Funmilayo Odunlami, said the force is not aware of such and arrest.

Nevertheless, it is expected that the Amotekun Corps would hand the suspects over to the police for further investigations and onward prosecution.


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This arrest is the latest development following the attack which left millions devastated across the country.

It comes barely 24 hours after President Muhammadu Buhari assured Nigerians that the attackers who he described as “cowards” behind recent assaults on churches in the country will be punished.

“As for the cowards, they will be punished for their crimes. We will bring them to justice. Rest assured that the full might of Nigeria’s formidable security and intelligence forces are involved in that endeavor,” Buhari was quoted as saying in a statement by his media aide Garba Shehu.

“For now, I urge all Nigerians to come together in prayer-whether Christian, Muslim, or any of our great faiths- let us hold the victims and their families in our hearts and minds.

“Let us show the cowards who seek to divide us along religious lines that we will not be divided. Let us show them that Nigerians will continue to cherish what we share while respecting each other’s differences. Let us show them that Nigerians will never be bullied by cowards, extremists, or terrorists.”

According to President Buhari, the country’s religious freedom and diversity are what makes Nigeria great.

Burkina Faso Massacre Survivors Say They Were Left Defenceless

Worshippers leave Ouagadougou’s cathedral after a mass, on June 12, 2022.
OLYMPIA DE MAISMONT / AFP

 

Villagers who escaped a jihadist massacre in northern Burkina Faso said Tuesday they had been left without any protection against the attackers after government forces pulled out of the area.

Over a period of hours on Saturday evening, armed men moved unhampered through the village of Seytenga, shooting, burning and looting, they said.

Seventy-nine people died, according to an upwardly revised toll issued on Tuesday as the Sahel state began three days of mourning.

Read Also: Burkina Faso Plunges Into Mourning After 50 Killed

It is the second bloodiest attack in the nearly seven-year-old history of the jihadist insurgency in Burkina Faso.

The campaign has claimed thousands of lives, forced nearly two million people to flee their homes and dealt a crippling economic blow to one of the world’s poorest countries.

Survivors who fled to Dori, the nearest large town to Seytenga, said the military had pulled out of the area on Friday, a day after a jihadist attack that had killed 11 gendarmes.

“The following day (on Friday), when the bodies were picked up, the security forces packed their bags and left,” said a survivor named Amadou.

“We raised the alarm, we asked for there to be at least a reinforcement to provide security for defenceless people.”

Two other survivors confirmed this account.

“On Friday, the gendarmerie, escorted by the army which had arrived to provide reinforcement, fell back to Dori,” said one.

“When the gendarmerie left after the first attack, people started to flee the town,” said another.

The bloodbath started on Saturday evening, a market day, the witnesses said.

“Armed men came and took position, surrounding the village and opening fire. They even opened doors to go inside homes and execute” people, said Amadou.

– ‘Stayed all night’ –
“They went from shop to shop, sometimes torching them,” one man said. “They opened fire on anyone who tried to run away. They stayed in the town all night.”

A woman named Fatimata, who had a baby girl in her arms, said she was desperate for news of her relatives.

“We are still looking for my brother. Was he able to escape into the countryside? We don’t know right now,” she said.

“They looted homes — they killed anyone they found, men, children. There are so many dead. It’s just awful,” she said.

The toll at Seytenga is surpassed only by an attack at Solhan in the northeast of the country last June that left 132 dead, according to an official toll. Local sources say 160 died.

Anger over the Soltan attack and a raid at Inata that killed 57 gendarmes five months later helped fuel a military coup in January.

A group of colonels ousted elected president Roch Marc Christian Kabore, facing mounting anger for his failure to roll back the insurgency.

The new strongman, Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, named security his key priority.

But after a lull, attacks resumed.

Several hundred people have died in the past three months, underscoring the problems facing the country’s poorly-equipped army against a ruthless and highly mobile foe.

Catholic Church Announces Date For Mass Burial Of Owo Massacre Victims

Scene of the St Francis Catholic Church, Owo where scores of worshippers were killed in Ondo State on June 5, 2022.

 

The victims of St Francis Catholic Church Owo, Ondo State who were gruesomely murdered on June 5 will be buried this week, Channels Television gathered on Tuesday.

Gunmen suspected to be terrorists had stormed the church nine days ago, killing over 40 worshippers, while injuring several others. The massacre has since been condemned by Nigerians, including President Muhammadu Buhari and many state governors who have called for a probe into the attack.

In a statement, the Catholic Diocese of Ondo said the mass burial for the slain worshippers will hold would hold on Friday, June 17.

The Director of Social Communication of the Diocese of Ondo, Revd. Father Augustine Ikwu told Channels Television in Akure that the mass burial would take place at a new cemetery of the diocese located along Emure-Ile Road in  Owo.

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The Diocese and the State government had earlier announced that about 40 people died while several others sustained injuries during the attack on a fateful day.

Some of the injured victims are still receiving treatment at the Federal Medical Centre and the St. Louis Catholic Hospital both in Owo and some other private hospitals in the state.

Although no one has been arrested in connection with the attack, the police authorities said three unexploded improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have been recovered from the scene of the Owo church attack.

Force Police Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, noted that police investigators have also recovered “pellets of expended AK-47 ammunition” from the scene.

Condemning the tragic incident, the Inspector-General of Police said full-scale investigations into the incident have been ordered with a view to bringing to book the perpetrators of the gruesome killings.

Meanwhile, governors across the six states in the South-west region have declared three days of mourning for victims of the terror attack at Saint Francis Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State.

The governors made the decision in a virtual meeting held on Friday to review the state of insecurity in the region.

According to a communique issued after the meeting, the governors condemned the June 5 attack in Owo which claimed at least 40 lives, and scores hospitalised.

“The Governors agreed to declare a 3-day mourning period in memory of the victims of the 5th June 2022 terror attack on St Francis Catholic, Owaluwa Street, Owo, Ondo State, starting from Monday, 13th June, to Wednesday, 15th, June 2022 to symbolise our collective loss across all South Western States in Nigeria,” the communique read in part.

“The meeting agreed that all the Governors should direct the flying of Flags at Half Mast in all public buildings, facilitates and official residences across all the States in the South West in honour of the victims of the Owo terror attack.”

Ukraine Says Killing Of Civilians In Bucha A ‘Deliberate Massacre’

Bodies lie on a street in Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, as Ukraine says Russian forces are making a “rapid retreat” from northern areas around Kyiv and the city of Chernigiv, on April 2, 2022. RONALDO SCHEMIDT / AFP

 

The killing of civilians in the town of Bucha near the Ukrainian capital was a “deliberate massacre”, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Sunday, after the hasty retreat of Russian forces from the area. 

“Bucha massacre was deliberate. Russians aim to eliminate as many Ukrainians as they can. We must stop them and kick them out. I demand new devastating G7 sanctions NOW,” Kuleba wrote on Twitter.

“Kyiv region. 21st century Hell. Bodies of men and women, who were killed with their hands tied. The worst crimes of Nazism have returned to EU,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhaylo Podolyak tweeted.

Read Also: Nearly 4.2 Million Ukrainian Refugees Flee War

“This was purposely done by Russia. Impose an embargo on energy resources, close seaports. Stop the murders!”

The evidence has emerged of possible civilian killings around Kyiv as the Russian army has pulled back in the face of ferocious resistance from Ukrainian forces.

In Bucha, the bodies of nearly 300 civilians were found in mass graves after Russian troops withdrew, local officials said.

AFP reporters saw at least 20 bodies, all in civilian clothing, strewn across a single street. One had his hands tied behind his back with a white cloth, and his Ukrainian passport left open beside his body.

EU chief Charles Michel on Sunday pledged further sanctions on Moscow as he condemned “atrocities” carried out by Russian forces near Ukraine’s capital Kyiv.

“Shocked by haunting images of atrocities committed by Russian army in Kyiv liberated region #BuchaMassacre,” European Council head Michel wrote on Twitter.

“EU is assisting Ukraine & NGO’s in gathering of necessary evidence for pursuit in international courts.”

British Foreign Minister Liz Truss said that as evidence mounted of “appalling acts” in the Ukrainian towns of Irpin and Bucha, Russia’s attacks on civilians must be investigated as “war crimes”.

Thousands In Burkina Faso Protest Rising Bloodshed

Roch Marc Christian Kabore, President of Burkina Faso, looks on at the first council of ministers after the cabinet reshuffle, in Ouagadougou, on July 1, 2021. President Roch Marc Christian Kabore of Burkina Faso sacked two of his ministers on June 30, 2021 over recent massacres there that have provoked protest among civilians over growing insecurity. PHOTO: OLYMPIA DE MAISMONT / AFP

 

Thousands of people took to the streets of Burkina Faso on Saturday, demanding a stronger response to rising jihadist bloodshed after a massacre last month killed more than 130 people.

The landlocked West African country has faced increasing attacks by jihadist groups linked Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State since 2015.

In the capital Ouagadougou, protesters chanted “No to growing insecurity”, “No to populations being abandoned”, “No to endless attacks” and “Is there still a president in Burkina Faso?”

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It was the first march organised by the opposition and civil society groups since President Roch Marc Christian Kabore was re-elected last year.

Kabore had asked the organisers to postpone the march.

But opposition leader Eddie Komboigo welcomed “a huge mobilisation across the country despite government calls for a boycott”.

“Today, from Dori to Kampti, from Dedougou to Diebougou, from Ouagadougou to Diapaga, people demonstrated to protest against the worsening security situation,” he said.

“During Kabore’s first term, there were officially more than 1,300 deaths and 1.2 million internally displaced people,” he added.

“It is feared that the second term will be worse than the first, because since the start of the year we have had more than 300 deaths”.

A demonstrator in the eastern department of Madjoari told AFP by phone that he was marching “so that the many displaced people can return to their home regions and live peacefully”.

Anger has been rising since the night of June 4, when the deadliest attack in the country’s six-year Islamist insurgency was waged on the village of Solhan.

Armed men — including “young people aged 12 to 14”, authorities said — killed at least 132 people, according to the government.

Local sources said the toll was 160, including many children.

Civil society figure Aristide Ouedraogo said “in light of the latest macabre developments of the security front, it was time to send a strong signal to the leaders to pull themselves together”.

In response to the growing fury, Kabore sacked his defence and security ministers on Wednesday. Kabore himself took over as defence minister.

AFP

21 Killed In New DR Congo Massacre By ADF Militia

The flag of the Democratic Republic of Congo

 

At least 21 people have been killed in a massacre suspected to have been committed by militants from the Islamist ADF group in conflict-wracked northeast DR Congo, a local official said Saturday.

The ADF fighters first attacked a rival group of Congolese militia members before killing inhabitants in the village of Lisasa, with the “preliminary death toll” put at 21, according to local administrator Donat Kibwana from the Beni territory of North Kivu province.

The toll was confirmed by the head of the Buliki area, where Lisasa is located.

A local NGO called Cepadho said in a statement that of the 21 killed, 15 were women.

All three sources said more people were kidnapped, a health centre was ransacked, homes set on fire and a Catholic church desecrated.

The ADF, which originated in the 1990s as a Ugandan Muslim rebel group, is one of more than 100 militias that plague the eastern provinces of the vast Democratic Republic of Congo.

The group has killed nearly 600 civilians since the army launched a crackdown on it last November, according to an unofficial count.

The massacres are apparently reprisals for the army operation – or are designed to warn locals against collaborating with the authorities.

The ADF has never claimed responsibility for attacks. But since April 2019, several of its assaults have been claimed by the so-called Islamic State’s Central Africa Province, with the claims of responsibility sometimes including factual mistakes.

The latest attack comes only days after the ADF killed 19 people in the remote village of Baeti on Wednesday night. The village’s church was torched, as were about 40 homes.

“During the month of October, the ADF has targeted Christian churches. This is not insignificant,” Cepadho head Omar Kavota told AFP.

Islamic State on Friday claimed responsibility for the Baeti attack.

On October 21, hundreds of prisoners escaped from a jail in Beni in an attack by gunmen. Police blamed the ADF, but the Islamic State again took credit.

Aid Workers Kidnapped

Elsewhere in eastern DRC on Saturday, a humanitarian group and a local official said three people including two aid workers had been kidnapped for ransom.

The three were returning from the Mulongwe refugee camp when they were snatched on the edge of Lake Tanganyika, Jean Lundimu, a staff member of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency International (ADRA), told AFP.

Lundimu said the kidnapped were two aid workers and a supplier — all Congolese — as well as a Burundian.

They were ambushed on Friday in the Mutambala area of South Kivu province’s Fizi region.

ADRA is the humanitarian agency of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

“Only the driver has been released. Negotiations are ongoing, we are following the situation closely,” Lundimu said.

Kidnappings in the area are not uncommon. In mid-October a driver for another international organisation was kidnapped before being released after a ransom was paid, local official Moutard Wa Mlendela said.

South Kivu, like other eastern provinces of the DRC, a vast country the size of continental western Europe, remains in the grip of armed groups, many of them claiming to defend ethnic communities.

According to UN figures, 1,315 people were killed in the first half of 2020, more than triple the toll of 416 over the same period last year.

AFP

Ten Dead In Latest DR Congo Massacre

 

Ten people were killed overnight Sunday in eastern DR Congo, where massacres of civilians by a rebel group have sparked protests against UN peacekeepers, local officials said.

Ten civilians were killed in the village of Kamango, a day after 22 were murdered in Ntombi, Donat Kibuana, administrator for the territory of Beni, told AFP on Monday.

“The 22 who were killed in Ntombi had not even been buried when other civilians were killed, in Kamango,” he said.

“Ten bodies have been brought to the morgue so far.”

Pascal Saambili, a traditional leader in Watalinga district, blamed the latest attack on the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a militia accused of hundreds of civilian deaths.

“The ADF burst into Kamango at nightfall. They killed civilians with machetes and guns. So far, we have recovered 10 bodies. There are also nine injured.”

“The people are in disarray.”

Faustin Basweki, who heads an association for young people in Kamango, said he had witnessed the massacre.

“When troops arrived, the terrorists gave the order to pull out and leave Kamango, speaking in Kiganda,” a language spoken in nearby Uganda, whose border lies 15 kilometres (eight miles) away, he said.

The ADF — a militia whose historical roots lie in Uganda and jihadism — has been active in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo since the Congo Wars of the 1990s.

The group has killed more than 1,000 civilians since October 2014, according to the not-for-profit Congo Research Group (CRG).

DRC forces launched operations against the ADF in the eastern region at the end of October.

In response the ADF has killed scores of civilians in an apparent bid to discourage the public from helping the military.

The massacres have unleashed a wave of anger, especially in the city of Beni, where local people have accused the large UN force in DRC of failing to protect them.

The UN force has pointed out that anti-ADF operations were launched by government forces, and has insisted it is trying to find a solution to keep the population safe.

AFP

27 Murdered Victims Buried In DR Congo

People gather in Oicha, on November 29, 2019, as 27 victims of the latest massacre in the country’s volatile east were being buried with hundreds paying homage while lashing out at security forces for failing to stop attacks. 
Bienvenu-Marie BAKUMANYA / AFP

 

The Democratic Republic of Congo town of Oicha on Friday buried 27 victims of the latest massacre in the country’s volatile east, with hundreds paying homage while lashing out at security forces for failing to stop attacks.

Mourners gathered in silence around the tiny morgue of Oicha, located near the Ugandan border and east of the DRC town of Beni, the scene of repeated deadly strikes.

Workers wore face masks as they wrapped the decomposing corpses in shrouds. They were barefoot in line with local tradition out of respect for the deceased.

Wooden crosses marked the graves and many wept as the bodies were lowered.

During the mass funerals, gunfire broke out from the nearby bush but it was unclear who was firing.

“My neighbour, who was my son’s mother-in-law, had her throat slit and was then cut up,” said Kahindo Kamabu, a woman in her fifties.

“I am very sad but I’m not crying any more as I want to tell these murderers that we are strong and dignified despite our pain.”

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Janvier Kasahirio, the head of a local youth association, said: “We found the remains of our brothers in pieces,” adding that some of the victims had been burnt.

He said they found the bodies in the bush.

The victims were hacked to death with machetes on Wednesday, taking to 107 the number of people killed in and around Beni since November 5.

The vast majority of the killings have been carried out by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a militia that has plagued the Democratic Republic of Congo’s east since the 1990s.

‘Chopped Up Like Meat’

“I recognised my aunt from her clothes,” said Rosette Kashauri.

“Her face was barely recognisable. Her body was chopped up like the meat one sells in the market. I am sad and angry,” she said.

The massacres have sparked protests against the local United Nations peacekeeping mission, known by its French acronym MONUSCO.

“It’s unthinkable that people kill the local population and that the young go to look for bodies while soldiers watch them,” said Moise Kakule.

On Friday, a DR Congo soldier was killed by civilians who mistook him for an ADF fighter, the army and a local official said.

The soldier opened fire as he saw local youth approaching him, before running out of ammunition, local leader Donat Kibwana added.

A general shutdown was observed in Oicha as well as in Goma, the main city in DRC’s east, in solidarity with the beleaguered residents of Beni and Oicha.

On Friday, the ADF released 12 hostages, including two women and some children, local residents said.

They said the released hostages carried back pamphlets exhorting locals to embrace Islam and stop cooperating with security forces.

Some said they had paid ransom to the ADF to secure the release of relatives.

“My four children were kidnapped by the ADF,” said 35-year-old Reagan Kimbu. “They were released against a payment of $4,500 (4,000 euros).”

The UN refugee agency meanwhile said there was an exodus of locals from Oicha to Beni, about 30 kilometres (20 miles) away.

“Alarming reports from the region suggest people being trapped and under threat from the armed groups, with daily reports of loss of life,” the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said on Friday.

“Abductions and attacks on schools, health centres and indigenous communities are also on the rise,” it said.

“Information is difficult to verify, as the movement of humanitarian workers is restricted due to insecurity around the city and in the territory of Beni, as a result of violence.”

AFP

Philippines Marks Massacre Anniversary With Calls For Justice

 

Relatives of 58 people slain in the Philippines’ worst political massacre held a tearful vigil Saturday to mark a decade since the killings, voicing anger at the slow pace of justice.

Tearful family members lit candles and released white balloons as children sang a chorus calling for justice at a southern Philippine town where 58 people, including 32 media workers, were slaughtered and dumped in roadside pits in November 2009.

“We have known for a long time who the guilty parties are. They must come out with the rightful decision now,” Jergin Malabanan, whose mother was among the journalists killed in one of the world’s deadliest ever attacks on media workers, told AFP.

Malabanan, who was 15 at the time, became the sole breadwinner for herself and four younger siblings with the death of her mother Gina de la Cruz, who was separated from her husband.

Ampatuan family dynasty leaders, who ruled the impoverished southern province of Maguindanao, are charged with organising the killing in a bid to quash an election challenge from local rival Esmael Mangudadatu.

The case has dragged on for years, with allegations of bribery and delay tactics against the defence, which once included Salvador Panelo, President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman.

The trial ended in July, but the Supreme Court gave the lower court judge until December 20 to go over the evidence on which her verdict on some 100 defendants will be based.

A low-flying military helicopter dropped a shower of flowers Saturday as about a thousand relatives, journalists, friends and local officials gathered around a hilltop concrete marker where the 58 victims’ names were inscribed.

“Let us keep our guard up,” Mangudadatu, now a member of the House of Representatives, told the relatives, warning them the killers would likely use the appeals courts against any unfavourable verdict.

“We expect that my brother and the rest of the victims will finally get justice soon,” Freddie Ridao, a member of the executive council of the nearby city of Cotabato told AFP.

Though the Ampatuans no longer hold top elected posts in Maguindanao, official results show at least 25 of them, including one of the principal defendants who is out on bail, won local seats in May’s elections.

Mali Army Tightens Security After Massacre

Officials and residents stand near ashes on June 11, 2019 in the Dogon village of Sobane-Kou, near Sangha, after an attack that killed over 100 ethnic Dogon on June 9, 2019 evening.
STRINGER / AFP

 

Mali’s army reinforced security Wednesday around two ethnic Dogon villages where 41 people were killed, according to a UN count, as survivors recounted how attackers from a rival community identified victims one by one before executing them.

Monday’s attack on the Gangafani and Yoro villages was the latest in a cycle of tit-for-tat violence between the Dogon and Fulani communities in the tense ethnic patchwork at the centre of Mali.

Mali’s government said Wednesday the army had dispatched a contingent to reinforce security and protect property in the villages near the border with Burkina Faso.

Just across the border in the north Burkina Faso village of Belehede, jihadist fighters killed 17 civilians in a raid overnight Tuesday, Burkinabe Defence Minister Cheriff Sy said.

An internal UN MINUSMA peacekeeping mission report seen by AFP put the death toll at 41, higher than an earlier official toll of 38 with “numerous” injured.

The UN added that more than 750 people had fled the villages where survivors and officials say Fulani gunmen arrived by motorbike before massacring people in “revenge” over suspicions that they had collaborated with the Malian army.

In addition, the MINUSMA report said five Malian soldiers were killed in an ambush “by presumed extremist elements” Tuesday in Fatal, a village in the Timbuktu commune of Gourma Rharous.

The authorities did not immediately comment on the information.

‘They killed them in front of us’

Abdoulaye Goro, a security guard, told AFP he had been travelling by truck to his father’s funeral near the two villages, when about forty armed men intercepted the vehicle and forced the passengers into the bush.

“They did identity checks and they only looked for the people from Yoro and Gangafani, and all those who were from those two villages were set apart,” Goro said. “They killed them in front of us, with rifles, and released us afterwards.”

The attack follows a massacre of 35 people earlier this month in another Dogon village, Sobane Da.

The UN says the wave of ethnic violence has killed hundreds since the start of last year.

Ethnic tensions in central Mali surged after a jihadist group led by preacher Amadou Koufa emerged in 2015 and recruited mainly from among the Fulani. Clashes increased with Dogon and Bambara who formed their own self-defence militias.

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita appealed for or an end to revenge attacks after he visited the site of the Sobane Da massacre.

But despite military help from France and the United Nations, Mali’s government is struggling to calm violence that began in the north of the country in 2012, sparked by radical Islamist and Tuareg militias.

In March this year, in the bloodiest raid, 160 Fulani were killed in an attack on Ogossagou village by suspected militiamen from a rival ethnic group.

Arrived by motorbike

During Monday’s attack, witness Goro said, the gunmen blamed inhabitants for having “cooperated” with the Malian and Burkinabe military about 15 days ago in a raid in the neighbouring town of Dinagourou.

At the local level, “there is a dispute between the people of Gangafani and Yoro against the Fulani,” Goro said.

“Our kidnappers were taking revenge,” the security guard said.

Local officials said the situation has calmed down, but residents were shocked how the gunmen were able to arrive en masse by motorbike even after the government imposed a ban on the vehicles as a way to tighten security.

“The attackers arrived on more than 100 motorcycles, so we need to strengthen security,” said Amidou Maiga, a local retired civil servant. “People are frightened.”

The UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA, said in May it had recorded nearly 500 deaths in attacks on Fulanis in the central regions of Mopti and Segou since January 2018.

Armed Fulanis caused 63 deaths among civilians in the Mopti region over the same period, it said.

The Fulani are primarily cattle breeders and traders, while the Bambara and Dogon ethnic groups are traditionally sedentary farmers.

Central Africa Holds Three Days’ Mourning Over Massacre

central african republic, violence

The leader of the Central African Republic proclaimed three days of mourning starting Thursday for more than 50 people killed this week in a massacre attributed to an armed group called 3R.

The public display of sorrow was to honour the victims of the killings that took place Tuesday in villages near the northwestern town of Paoua, close to the border with Chad, as well as the murder of a 77-year-old French-Spanish nun in the southwest of the country whose beheaded body was found Monday, according to the decree by President Faustin-Archange Touadera.

The slaughter near Paoua was the biggest single loss of life since the government and 14 militias signed a deal in February aimed at restoring peace to one of Africa’s most troubled countries.

The UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic, MINUSCA, revised up its death toll from the northwest massacre to more than 50, from a previous count of more than 30.

According to one UN source, the 3R group — which gets its initials from “Return, Reclamation and Reconciliation” and claims to represent the Fulani, one of the country’s many ethnic groups — hosted a meeting with the villagers and then gunned them down indiscriminately.

MINUSCA and the country’s authorities on Wednesday gave the 3R group until the end of the week to hand over the suspected perpetrators of the massacre.

AFP