Mali: Over 130 Fulani villagers killed by gunmen


No fewer than 110 people were killed in an attack on a village in central Mali on Saturday by gunmen dressed like wearing traditional Dogon hunters.

The assaults on the villages of Ogossagou and Welingara took place as a U.N. Security Council mission visited Mali seeking solutions to the violence that killed hundreds of civilians a year ago and is spreading across West Africa's Sahel region.

A delegation of the UN Security Council arrived in Mali on Friday for talks with authorities about progress on the peace process.

The Saturday ambush is not the first time a wave of violence has struck the Fulani community, which the BBC describes as a "largely Muslim ethnic group of semi-nomadic herders".

Army chief of staff General M'Bemba Moussa Keita was replaced by General Abdoulaye Coulibaly, while chief of land forces General Abdrahamane Baby was removed and Brigadier-General Keba Sangare has been named as his replacement.

The Security Council mission met Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga to talk about the increased threat from jihadist fighters in central Mali.

Hours earlier an emergency meeting was called by President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in response to Saturday's massacre, in which at least 134 men, women and children were killed.

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The attack on the villagers took place in Ogossagou and Welingara towns, according to local officials.

Two witnesses questioned separately by AFP said hunters had burned down almost all the huts in the village.

"The new toll is 115 dead" in the village of Ogossagou, said Cheick Harouna Sankare, mayor of neighbouring Ouenkoro.

The Dogon also accuse Fulanis of ties to terror groups.

"Mali's children are paying the highest price for the intensifying violence in central Mali". All in all, France has some 4,500 troops deployed to the Sahel region, the majority of them stationed in Mali. Since these violent altercations keep occurring, the Muslim group has accused the government of encouraging Dogon attacks on Fulani villages.

Armed groups linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) have exploited ethnic rivalries in Mali and its neighbours Burkina Faso and Niger to boost recruitment and render vast swaths of territory in the Sahel region virtually ungovernable.