February 14, 2020 / 6:25 PM / 5 days ago

Attackers kill 31 in Mali village, after massacre last year at same site

BAMAKO (Reuters) - At least 31 people were killed on Friday in an attack on a village that was the scene last year of Mali’s worst civilian massacre in recent memory, the government said.

A government statement late on Friday did not say who carried out the early morning attack on Ogossagou, a village of Fulani herders in central Mali.

“They came and shot everything that moved,” said Hamadou Dicko from Fulani association Tabital Pulaaku.

In the attack on Ogossagou in March, suspected militiamen from a rival group killed more than 150 civilians, part of spiraling ethnic and jihadi violence in West Africa’s vast Sahel region.

Moulaye Guindo, mayor of the nearby town of Bankass, and another local official, who declined to be named, said the latest attack came less than 24 hours after Malian troops who had been stationed near Ogossagou left their base.

An army spokesman said soldiers had been deployed to respond to the attack but did not give details.

Central Malian residents have criticized the army for failing to protect them against violence that has displaced 200,000 people and left many communities with no local government or means of defense.

They have turned to self-defense militias for protection against jihadists and rival ethnic groups though the defense groups have also used their weapons to settle scores.

Malian officials have said they suspect Dan Na Ambassagou, an anti-jihadi, ethnic Dogon group of carrying out last year’s massacre in Ogossagou. The group denies responsibility.

French forces intervened in 2013 to drive back al Qaeda-linked jihadists who had seized northern Mali the previous year, but the militants have regrouped, stoking ethnic rivalries in central Mali and elsewhere to boost recruitment and destabilize the region.

Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Additional reporting by Paul Lorgerie in Bamako and Anna Pujol-Mazzini in Dakar, Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Aaron Ross and Edmund Blair

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