At least 15 Tuaregs killed in Fulani attack on Mali village

BAMAKO (Reuters) - At least 15 Tuaregs were killed when armed men from a rival ethnic group attacked their village in northern Mali, local authorities said on Wednesday.

Clashes between mostly lighter-skinned Tuareg and black Fulani herdsmen, often over land and watering points, have killed dozens of civilians this year.

That has compounded an already dire security situation in the country’s north, where attacks by jihadist groups are common.

Tuesday’s raid on a remote desert village in the Menaka region near the border with Niger killed 16 people, Bajan Ag Hamatou, a member of parliament from the area, told Reuters.

“Armed men entered a Tuareg campsite and killed all the men they found,” Hamatou said. “They were attacked by their Fulani brothers.”

The mayor of the nearby town of Menaka, Nanout Kotia, said the attack killed 15 or 16 Tuaregs and appeared to have been motivated by inter-ethnic tensions.

Islamist militants seized Mali’s desert north in 2012. French forces intervened the following year to wrest back control, but fighters with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State have since regrouped.

They have tapped into the ethnic rivalries to recruit new members and their frequent attacks in Mali and nearby countries have alarmed Western powers.

In the north of neighboring Burkina Faso, eight soldiers were killed on Wednesday when their vehicle hit a land mine, a security source told Reuters. The area, which borders Mali, has seen a sharp increase in such attacks in recent months.

Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo and Souleymane Ag Anara; additional reporting by Thiam Ndiaga; Writing by Sofia Christensen; Editing by Aaron Ross and John Stonestreet