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Attackers on motorbikes kill at least 27 Malian villagers, local officials say

BAMAKO (Reuters) – At least 27 civilians were killed when unidentified armed men on motorbikes attacked ethnic Dogon farming villages in central Mali on Wednesday, local authorities said.

The attackers targeted the villages of Gouari, Djindo and Fangadougou in the Mopti region, which has seen dozens of tit-for-tat ethnic massacres as well as jihadist raids over the past few years.

Officials in the area told Reuters they believed the attacks were carried out by jihadists, who often say they are defending Fulani herders against rival Dogon farmers.

In Gouari, “quite a lot of armed men attacked the village, firing at people. Fifteen bodies were buried this morning. There are also wounded. They attacked Djindo first,” a local official said by phone on Thursday, requesting anonymity for security reasons.

The attackers killed 11 villagers in Djindo and one in nearby Fangadougou, a second official said, also on condition he not be named.

Reuters could not independently verify the reports. No group has claimed responsibility for the violence, which took place in an area around 30 km (19 miles) from the border with Burkina Faso.

A spokesman for the Malian army could not be reached for comment. The army has been criticised by rights groups and residents for failing to protect civilians in central Mali.

Mali has been in crisis since 2012 when al Qaeda-linked militants seized its desert north. French forces intervened the following year to drive them back, but militants linked to al Qaeda and the Islamic State have since regrouped and extended their operations into Burkina Faso and Niger.

The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), a consultancy that tracks political violence, says it recorded nearly 300 civilian fatalities in Mali in the first three months of 2020, a 90% increase over the previous quarter.

Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Mark Potter

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