Nine civilians lost their lives after attackers opened fire on them. Nineteen others were missing after the attack. The civilians were living in the Mopti region of central Mali. About 50 unidentified heavily armed men riding on motorbikes and in 4×4 vehicles opened fire on helpless civilians killing at least nine of them. The men surrounded the Dogon village and killed anyone who tried to escape.
Not a single individual in the village was spared – women, elderly people, and even children were killed. Some victims had their throats cut or were disemboweled. The attackers also burned down houses and grain stores and killed animals. A Dogon village in the Mopti region was virtually wiped out on that day.
The attackers targeted four villages in the Mopti region in central Mali. Many of the individuals killed were in Sokoura village, who are from the ethnic Dogon farming villages. The Mopti region has seen numerous tit-for-tat ethnic massacres over the years. Additionally, jihadists raid the region frequently.
Al-Qaeda to Blame
Malian officials are blaming the attack on al-Qaeda linked jihadists. Violence between the farming Dogon community and the Muslim cattle-herding Fulani in the Mopti region has been rising. The violence is believed to be fueled by the growing presence of Islamist militants in Mali.
Jihadists often attack the Dogon community claiming to be defending Fulani herders against rival Dogon farmers. Quite a lot of armed men attack the village in the Mopti region. Hence when the news of the killings broke out, officials blamed jihadists for the murders. No group, however, has claimed responsibility for the violence which took place. The incident took place around 30Km (19 miles) from the border of Mali and Burkina Faso.
Separate reports made on Wednesday claimed that several Malian soldiers were also killed in the attack. There has been no legitimate verification of these allegations from army officials, however. Residents and rights groups in Mali criticize the army for failing to protect civilians in central Mali.
Mali has been in crisis since 2012 due to al-Qaeda linked militants. The militants seized Mali`s desert north, sparking a war between them and the Mali government. The Malian soldiers were overwhelmed at one point, and French forces intervened and helped drive the militants back. The militants linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic state have, however, regrouped since then. As a result the group now operates in Burkina Faso and Niger.
Political Violence research
A consultancy that tracks political violence performed research on the area in 2020. Their findings revealed that in the first three months of 2020, nearly 300 civilians lost their lives in Mali due to political violence. For this reason the fatalities had increased by 90% over the previous quarter.
In one of the bloodiest attacks recorded, about 160 Fulani villagers lost their lives. The incident occurred in March at Ogossagou village, which is near the border with Burkina Faso. Suspected Dogon hunters attacked the village and killed nearly everyone. The latest attack on the Dogon villagers happened less than three months after they killed 160 members of the Fulani ethnic group.