08 May 2024, 23:35

Jihadists and ethnic militia killed 45 Mali civilians: HRW

              DAKAR, May  8, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - Human Rights Watch on Wednesday accused an
Islamist armed group and an ethnic militia of killing at least 45 civilians in
separate attacks in January in central Mali, a region plagued by communal

       Fighters from the Al-Qaeda-linked coalition Group for the Support of Islam
and Muslims (GSIM) "killed at least 32 civilians, including three children, and
set fire to over 350 homes" in attacks on the villages of Ogota and Ouembe on
January 27, HRW said.

       At the beginning of January, Dozo militiamen -- traditional hunters
consisting mainly of ethnic Bambara -- had killed 13 civilians and abducted 24
others in the villages of Boura and Kalala, which is predominantly
ethnic-Fulani, according to HRW.

       "These attacks occurred amid recurrent tit-for-tat killings and communal
violence in central Mali," the NGO added.

       HRW said January's attacks were "apparent war crimes" and called on the
Malian authorities to "urgently investigate the abuses".

       Mali has since 2012 been plunged into turmoil by independence and Salafist
insurgencies in the north.

       The centre of the country has become a hotbed of violence since 2015, with
the emergence of jihadist groups led in particular by the firebrand Fulani
preacher Amadou Koufa, who has largely recruited from among his own community.

       The violence has spilled over into neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger
       Clashes have increased between the Fulani, who are mainly herders, and the
Bambara and Dogon,  largely farmers, leading to the formation of ethnic
self-defence groups.

       The deteriorated security context, remote locations and a lack of reliable
information mean that attacks often take a long time to  confirm.

       The Malian armed forces have stepped up operations in the centre of the
country in recent months, along with Russian paramilitary group Wagner.

       They are also accused of numerous abuses against civilians, particularly
the Fulani.

       "The Malian transitional government's failure to hold Islamist armed groups
and ethnic militias to account only emboldens abusive forces to commit further
atrocities," said Ilaria Allegrozzi, senior Sahel researcher at HRW.



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