33 villagers killed in attacks in central Mali this week

A local official says armed men who identified themselves as jihadists killed at least 33 people in attacks on farming villages in Mali’s central Mopti region this week

BAMAKO, Mali -- Armed men who identified themselves as jihadists attacked farming villages in Mali’s central Mopti region this week, killing at least 33 people and wounding at least five, local officials said Friday.

The attackers arrived on motorcycles Wednesday, killing men who were returning from their fields in the villages of Gouari, Djimdo, Pangadougou and Dialaikanda, according to Moulaye Guindo, the mayor of Bankass, the capital of the area.

He said 15 were killed in Djimdo, 16 in Gouari and two in Pangadougou.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but they bear the mark of the Fulani armed groups who have been targeting Dogon farmers they accuse of being allied with militias close to the government. The Dogon farmers have been responsible for attacks on Fulani villages in the same area.

“This attack will cause a psychosis and I am afraid that the villagers of this whole area will not go farming this year,” Guindo warned.

Intercommunal violence in central Mali has been complicated by the presence of jihadist groups linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group. Many accuse the Fulani of being close to the al-Qaida-linked militants, which Fulani leaders have denied, while Dogon community members are considered to be supportive of the Malian army.