BAMAKO (Reuters) – On Saturday, armed men killed at least 134 Fulani shepherds in the center of Mali. This is the most deadly recent attack in a region affected by the deterioration of ethnic and jihadist violence.
The attacks on the villages of Ogossagou and Welingara took place as a UN Security Council mission. Mali Mali visited to find solutions to violence that killed hundreds of civilians and spread throughout the West African Sahel region last year.
Moulaye Guindo, mayor of the nearby town of Bankass, said that armed men dressed as traditional Donzo hunters surrounded and attacked Ogossagou at around 4am (04:00 GMT).
"For the time being, we are at 134 places recovered by the gendarmes," Guindo Reuters said over the phone from Ogossagou.
He said another nearby village in Fulani, Welingara, had also been attacked and caused "a number" of deaths, but he still did not know how many.
Security sources said the dead included pregnant women, children and the elderly.
An Ogossagou resident who had asked for non-identification said the attack was a retaliation for an Al Qaeda member's responsibility on Friday for a raid last week that killed 23 soldiers.
This group said the raid was a gain for the violence of Mali's army and militiamen against the Fulani.
Jihadist groups affiliated with Al Qaeda and the Islamic State have exploited ethnic rivalries in Mali and its neighbors Burkina Faso and Niger in recent years to boost recruitment and make vast territories virtually ungovernable.
The French armed forces intervened in Mali, a former French colony, in 201
About 4,500 French troops remain in the wider Sahel zone, most in Mali. The United States also has hundreds of troops in the area.
The Security Council ambassadors met on Friday evening with Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and other government officials to discuss the violence and slow implementation of a 2015 peace agreement with non-Islamist armed groups.
"Strong sense of frustration with many Security Council members in implementing the Mali Peace Agreement," wrote UK mission representative Stephen Hickey on Twitter. "The Security Council was ready to impose sanctions on those who hinder its implementation."
Additional coverage by Souleymane Ag Anara; Writing by Aaron Ross; Edited by Angus MacSwan