Nearly 100 killed in Mali massacre as ethnic violence escalates

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Attackers believed to belong to the Fulani ethnic group raided a rival Dogon village overnight, killing at least 95 people and burning houses to the ground, local and government officials said on Monday (local time).

The attack appears to be the latest incident in a cycle of violence in central Mali, an ethnic mosiac. The Dogon also accuse Fulanis of having ties to local jihadist groups, while Fulanis claim that Mali's army has armed Dogon hunters to attack them.

Tensions have been especially high in the region since a Dogon militia was accused of massacring around 157 residents of a Fulani village in March.

Nineteen people were missing after the ethnic Dogon village of Sobame Da was attacked around 3 a.m., said Interior Security Ministry spokesman Amadou Sangho.

The Malian government meanwhile expressed its condolences and said "every measure will be taken to arrest and punish those responsible for this bloodshed".

"Over the recent months, violence has reached unprecedented [levels] amid retaliatory attacks and serious violations of human rights in central Mali impacting on all communities", U.N. Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng warned in March. Some Peuhl leaders, however, have vowed to carry out reprisal attacks.

He said the village had had a population of 300 before the attack.

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"The insecurity and the large-scale massacres exploited by terrorist groups are the seeds of a total and lasting destabilization of the region", the statement said.

In turn, the Peuhl have alleged that the Dogons are collaborating with Mali's military, though there is no conclusive sign of state support.

Sangha Mayor Ali Dolo told Reuters that 95 charred bodies had been found so far, but that the death toll was likely to rise as the village was still ablaze.

The victims have included women and young children, and observers say hundreds of civilians were killed previous year alone.

The United Nations mission in Mali, in a report dated 31 May, said the security situation in central Mali "continued to deteriorate". "The availability of weapons of war and the pretext of fighting jihadist groups have opened the floodgates to a level of ethnic-based violence that is without precedent in the region".

Al Jazeera's Nicolas Haque, reporting from Dakar in neighbouring Senegal, said Malian troops were deployed at the village "trying to secure the area and to ensure there are no more attacks happening in the villages nearby".

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