Thousands of Malians demonstrated in Bamako Friday to demand an end to a series of massacres in the centre of the country.
According to the Police 3,000 attended the rally in the capital while organisers said 5,000 turned out to urge an end to a spike in violence which has led UN peacekeepers to declare a state of alert.
Ethnic tensions in the centre of the country have surged since a jihadist group led by preacher Amadou Koufa emerged in 2015.
The group recruit mainly from among the Fulani — primarily cattle breeders and traders — and they have clashed with the Dogon and Bambara — traditionally sedentary farmers who have formed their own self-defence militias.
President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who rejects the idea of an “inter-ethnic conflict,” on Thursday named former interim president Dioncounda Traore as high representative for the region to report back to him.
Meanwhile statistics from the Red Cross indicate that some 2,800 people fleeing the violence had taken refuge in the town of Bandiagara in the east of Mopti region where aid including utensils and bedding had been distributed.