Bamako (hooly News) – Mali caught in a spiral of intercommunity and jihadist violence experienced another bloody day with the deaths of 21 civilians in a village already targeted by a deadly attack a year earlier and that of eight soldiers who had been ambushed , also in the center of the country.
Thirty armed men stormed and sowed death overnight Thursday through Friday in Ogossagou (center), where 160 Fulani people were massacred in March 2019, village chief Aly told hooly News Ousmane Barry.
A few hours later, eight soldiers died and four others were wounded in a tense ambush in Bintia, in the Gao region (center), the army announced on social media.
Another soldier was killed in a separate attack in Mondoro.
The traditional Dogon hunters, already incriminated in 2019, were again singled out by local officials in Ogossagou without anything allowing to independently corroborate the community character of the attack in this remote border area of Burkina Faso. The army, subjected in recent months to a succession of jihadist attacks, has not designated its attackers in Bintia.
The authorities have been blamed for the withdrawal of the army from Ogossagou a few hours before the carnage.
"The soldiers were told not to leave and they left. This encouraged the traditional hunters to return," said a local official speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons.
Friday, the village chief proceeded to "count in the presence of the military and health services. We have 20 dead, some were burnt out". The government has reported 21 deaths.
Other villagers, whose number differs according to sources, are missing.
Ogossagou was targeted on March 23, 2019 by an attack that claimed the lives of 160 civilians. Attributed to Dogon hunters, it had been the culmination of inter-community violence then underway in the center.
– Retaliation cycle –
This region is caught in a whirlwind of violence since 2015 and the appearance of a jihadist group led by the Peul preacher Amadou Koufa, who has largely recruited from his community, and joined the Support Group for Islam and Muslims ( GSIM), the main jihadist alliance in the Sahel affiliated with Al-Qaeda, since its creation in 2017.
Clashes have multiplied between the Peuls, mainly breeders, and the Bambara and Dogon ethnic groups, who mainly practice agriculture. The latter have created self-defense groups based on traditional dozo hunters.
The main association of Dogon hunters, Dan Nan Ambassagou, had been officially dissolved after the massacre at Ogossagou, but it never stopped operating.
While the pace of large-scale attacks has slowed, acts of daily violence have never stopped in the region.
In addition to these community atrocities and reprisals, Mali is in the grip of a jihadist push which, starting from the north, reached the center of the country and then Burkina Faso and neighboring Niger. In this spiral was registered an explosion of common law crime and robbery. Since 2012, violence has left thousands of people dead and hundreds of thousands displaced.
Some 500 civilians were killed in the center in 2019 alone, the deadliest year for civilians since 2012, according to the NGO Human Rights Watch.
– Mondoro attacked again –
The Malian army, meanwhile, has lost dozens of soldiers in a series of jihadist operations in recent months. It repositioned its forces, exposing itself to the accusation of leaving certain civilian populations to fend for themselves.
One of its camps, Mondoro, already targeted in September with that neighboring Boulkessi in a double attack that left 40 dead, was attacked again during the night of Thursday to Friday. A national guard was killed, we learned from security sources.
On Wednesday, a Malian soldier was also killed in a jihadist attack in Dialloubé, also in the center, the army said. Five jihadists were killed, she said.
The head of the UN Mission in Mali, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, noted in a press release that the attack on Ogossagou came after the Malian army had just carried out in the North an act of affirmation by the state authority on the territory by returning Thursday to Kidal, controlled by the ex-Tuareg rebels.
"It is urgent to break this spiral of violence," he said.