The attack lasted several hours. Hours during which the deadly rage of armed men left more than forty civilians and Malian soldiers dead in Dogon villages in the center of the country, Wednesday July 1 and Thursday July 2.

These events in Mali in the Bankass sector, near the border with Burkina Faso, illustrate once again the cycle of jihadist and community violence in the Sahel and in the country, despite the intervention of UN, African and French forces.

Central Mali, and in particular this region of Mopti, the big city some 600 kilometers from the capital Bamako, is one of the main centers of violence that started in the North in 2012 and which has spread since 2015 to the south of the country , but also in neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.

They are in this region the fact of armed groups, sometimes "of self-defense", and jihadists, also opposing the communities.

It is in the same sector of Bankass that around thirty villagers had been killed in February in Ogossagou, where 160 civilians had already been massacred on March 23, 2019 - these were then Peuls, and not Dogons like this time .

We do not yet know who is behind these new carnages.

"Barbarian" acts

Armed men in combat gear and mounted on pickup trucks attacked four Dogon villages on Wednesday, where they sowed death from mid-afternoon until early night, local official said on Friday. by phone and speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons.

The attack left "at least 30 dead, including women, children, the elderly (and) many missing," he said. A senior government official also speaking on condition of anonymity reported "barbaric" acts.

A Dogon defense organization has accused the Peuls, but there is nothing to independently corroborate these accusations.

The various reports retrace a familiar unfolding, with assailants tracking villagers left to their own devices, burning huts and granaries and practicing looting.

The first military post is located miles away in Sokoura.

"From 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., no one came to our rescue. I deplore the inaction of the army, which is always late and never confronts the bandits even if we tell them where (they) are staying" , testified to AFP Youssouf Tiessougue, notable of Gouari, one of the villages.

Soldiers ambushed

A detachment went to the scene the same evening and participated in the burial of 31 bodies before leaving, said army spokesman Colonel Diarran Koné.

The army was again dispatched to the scene the next day following reports of a new attack, he said. When he arrived, "around 8 pm, the village seemed deserted, there was practically no sign of life". It was then that the soldiers fell into an ambush, he said, taking care not to say who would be the perpetrators. "We deplore nine dead and two injured, and we have also recorded destroyed equipment."

Since the appearance in 2015 of armed groups, starting with that of the radical Peul imam Amadou Koufa affiliated with Al-Qaeda, central Mali has been the scene of all kinds of abuses: attacks on the little that remains of the State, massacres, reprisals and villainous acts.

The violence has taken on an increased community character, especially between Dogons and Fulani, often assimilated to jihadists, Amadou Koufa's group recruiting primarily from this community.

To this violence is added the abuses by the security forces against civilians, especially the Fulani, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). A total of 580 people were killed in the center in the first half, according to OHCHR. 

The violence in Mali has left thousands of people dead and hundreds of thousands displaced since 2012.

With AFP

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