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More than 130 civilians massacred in Mali

MORE than 130 civilians were massacred in Mali over the weekend in what is believed to be the biggest wave of mass killings in Africa’s arid Sahel region. 

Local officials reported scenes of systematic killings by armed men in Diallassagou and two surrounding towns in the Bankass circle. 

“They have also been burning huts, houses, and stealing cattle — it’s really a free-for-all,” a local official said on condition of anonymity.

He and another official, who had also fled his village, said the death toll was still being counted on Monday.

The attack has been blamed on al Qaida-affilated jihadists, with news of the slaughter not being made public until Monday as authorities were forced to respond to reports circulating on social media. 

The killings occurred after Mali’s armed forces had been engaged in a gun battle with the Islamists. 

They returned on Friday on motorcycles seeking revenge on the local population. 

“They arrived and told the people, ‘You are not Muslims’ in Fulani, then took the men away, and a hundred people went with them,” an official said.

“Some two kilometres away, they systematically shot people.”

A UN document published in March said nearly 600 civilians had been killed in Mali in 2021 in violence blamed mainly on jihadist groups, but also on self-defence militias and armed forces.

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