Seven civilians killed in attacks in northeast Mali
Gunmen killed seven civilians in two attacks Thursday in northeastern Mali near the border with Niger, a local politician and a security source said.
The six gunmen first shot dead five people who were in a car a few dozen kilometres from the town Menaka, the elected official said. “Then they went into a hamlet and killed two more civilians,” he added.
A security source confirmed the information, saying the gunmen were riding motorcycles.
The area around Menaka has seen frequent clashes pitting jihadists who have sworn allegiance to the Islamic State group against two mainly Tuareg armed groups and soldiers of the Malian army and Barkhane, a French force.
The violence is often accompanied by exactions against civilians, especially members of the Fulani and Tuareg ethnic groups.
Radical Islamist militias who seized the north of the former French colony in 2012 were pushed back by French troops in 2013.
But large swathes of territory remain beyond the control of Malian, French or UN forces despite a 2015 peace accord aimed at definitively isolating the jihadists.
Since then the violence has spread to the centre of the country and sometimes even further south, often exacerbating inter-ethnic tensions — a phenomenon also seen in neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.
Ethnic tensions in central Mali have surged since a jihadist group led by preacher Amadou Koufa emerged in 2015.
They recruit mainly from among the Fulani primarily cattle breeders and traders — and they have clashed with the Dogon and Bambara — farmers who have formed their own self-defence militias.
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