Unidentified gunmen attacked two villages in central Mali, killing at least 41 people in a part of the country where ethnic reprisal attacks have surged in recent months.
The victims of Monday’s raids were mostly ethnic Dogons, said Issiaka Ganame, the mayor of Yoro, where 24 people were killed. Another 17 died in Gangafani 2.
“About 100 unidentified armed men circulating on motos all of a sudden invaded Yoro and fired on the population,” Ganame told Reuters. “Then they descended on the village of Gangafani 2, which is about 15 km (9 miles) away.”
The tit-for-tat violence in recent months has largely pitted Dogon hunters against Fulani herders. Attackers believed to be Fulani raided a Dogon village last week, killing at least 35 people.
In March, suspected Dogon militiamen killed more than 150 Fulani in two villages in central Mali.
President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s government has vowed to disarm the militias but has struggled to do so.
“President Keita said he was going to disarm all the militias. We take note and await the disarmament of the militias and implementation of protection measures,” said Ousmane Christian Diarra, secretary-general of the National Syndicate of Civil Administrators.
French forces intervened in Mali, a former French colony, in 2013 to push back a jihadist advance from the north. But the militants have since regrouped and use northern and central Mali as launchpads to stage attacks across the region and stoke tensions among different communities.