Nearly 100 killed, 19 missing in central Mali village massacre

Dogon villages often follow a traditional way of life. (Getty Images)
Updated 10 June 2019
0

Nearly 100 killed, 19 missing in central Mali village massacre

  • The government, giving a provisional toll, said 95 people had been killed, 19 were missing, numerous farm animals had been slaughtered and homes had been torched
  • It came less than three weeks after nearly 160 members of the Fulani ethnic group were slaughtered by a group identified as Dogon

BAMAKO: Nearly 100 people were killed in a gruesome overnight attack on a village in central Mali, in the latest violence to strike the fragile region, officials said Monday.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility but the massacre, targeting a village inhabited by the Dogon community, bore the hallmarks of tit-for-tat ethnic attacks that have claimed hundreds of lives.
It came less than three weeks after nearly 160 members of the Fulani ethnic group were slaughtered by a group identified as Dogon.
“Right now we have 95 dead civilians. The bodies are burned, we are continuing to look for others,” an official in Koundou district, where the village of Sobane-Kou is located, told AFP.
The government, giving a provisional toll, said 95 people had been killed, 19 were missing, numerous farm animals had been slaughtered and homes had been torched.
“Armed men, suspected to be terrorists, launched a murderous attack on this peaceful village,” it said in a statement.
A Malian security source at the site of the massacre said “a Dogon village has been virtually wiped out.”
The local official said the attackers came and “started shooting, pillaging and burning.”
The village had about 300 inhabitants, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
An association of Dogon traditional hunters, called Dan Nan Ambassagou, deplored the “barbaric and vile” attack which it described as tantamount to genocide.
A brutal cycle of violence in central Mali, an ethnic mosaic, began after a predominantly Fulani extremist group led by preacher Amadou Koufa emerged in 2015.
It started targeting the Bambara and Dogon ethnic groups, which in turn started to form “self-defense groups” of their own. The Fulani are primarily cattle breeders and traders, while the Bambara and Dogon are traditionally sedentary farmers.
On May 16, the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) announced it had recorded “at least 488 deaths” in attacks on Fulanis in the central regions of Mopti and Segou since January 2018.
In the bloodiest raid, about 160 Fulani villagers were slaughtered on March 23 at Ogossagou, near the border with Burkina Faso, by suspected Dogon hunters.
According to MINUSMA, armed Fulanis had “caused 63 deaths” among civilians in the Mopti region, also since January 2018.
“It’s a shock, a tragedy,” MINUSMA chief Mahamat Saleh Annadif said of the latest bloodletting, noting that it came at a time “when we are discussing the renewal of the (MINUSMA) mandate.”
There are currently about 14,700 troops and police deployed in Mali, which ranks as the most dangerous UN mission, with 125 peacekeepers killed in attacks since deployment in 2013.
Donor countries to MINUSMA are to to meet at the UN on Wednesday. A decision on renewing the force’s mandate is expected by June 27.
Speaking at the UN headquarters in New York, Annadif voiced regret that the Malian authorities had not been present enough in the area to prevent such violence.
Just a week earlier, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres had warned of a “high risk” of atrocities and called on the government to strengthen its response to extremist groups.
“If these concerns are not addressed, there is a high risk of further escalation that could lead to the commission of atrocity crimes,” he wrote in a report to the UN Security Council.
In Monday’s statement, the Malian government expressed its condolences and said “every measure will be taken to arrest and punish those responsible for this bloodshed.”
“Reinforcements are currently deployed in the sector and carrying out a wide-ranging search,” it said in a statement.
MINUSMA was established after radical Islamist and Tuareg militias seized the north of the country in 2012.
The insurgents were pushed back by French troops in 2013. A peace agreement signed in 2015 by the Bamako government and armed groups aimed at restoring stability.
But the accord failed to stop extremist violence, which then shifted to central Mali, inflaming ancient inter-ethnic hostility.
Koufa in March 2017 joined the newly-formed Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM), the leading extremist alliance in the Sahel region, with links to Al-Qaeda. Its leader is Iyad Ag Ghaly.


Possible far-right link to German politician murder: reports

A portrait of Walter Luebcke, the administrative chief of the western city of Kassel, is on display next to his coffin during a memorial service in Kassel, western Germany on June 13, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 4 min 45 sec ago
0

Possible far-right link to German politician murder: reports

  • Since his death, hundreds of posts from social media accounts tied to right-wing extremists hailed his murder

BERLIN: German authorities said on Sunday they had arrested a man in connection with the murder of a local politician who was vocally pro-migrant, as media reported the suspect could have far-right links.
Police and prosecutors issued a joint statement that they had taken a 45-year-old man into custody Saturday over the shooting death in early June of prominent local politician Walter Luebcke, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU party.
“The arrest came on the basis of DNA evidence and the suspect appeared this afternoon before an investigating judge in Kassel,” the western city where Luebcke was killed, the authorities said.
They declined to comment on a possible motive, saying they would offer further information to the media about the arrest and the investigation’s progress in the coming days.
However the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily reported that the suspect “comes from the far-right scene,” without providing further details.
The Bild newspaper, citing unnamed investigators, said the suspect “could belong to the right-wing extremist scene.”
Luebcke was shot in the head at close range on the terrace of his home in Kassel, around 160 kilometers (100 miles) northeast of Frankfurt.
Investigators say it is unclear why the 65-year-old was killed, but a possible political motive has not been ruled out, given he had previously received numerous death threats.
Luebcke, the head of the city administration in Kassel, had spoken out in defense of migrants at the height of Europe’s refugee crisis in 2015, drawing the fury of the far right.
Since his death, hundreds of posts from social media accounts tied to right-wing extremists hailed his murder.