10 dead, 14 injured in central Mali ethnic clashes

2017-03-24 08:53


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Bamako - At least 10 people have died in violent clashes between two ethnic groups in central Mali, a security ministry source told AFP on Thursday, as tensions grow over land use and food scarcity in the region.

Increased availability of arms from Libya has also contributed to intercommunal violence in Mali, experts say, while drought has forced herders into areas traditionally cultivated by farmers.

A Malian security ministry source told AFP: "10 dead, 14 wounded" in a text message late on Thursday, adding that material damage was also being assessed and injured people evacuated from the area.

Cattle rustling in the village of Tougou has angered traditional farmers who cultivate the land with their livestock, a local official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The farmers, members of the majority Bambara people, carried out reprisals Wednesday against Fulani people they believed had stolen the cows.

Fulani people are frequently accused of criminality and colluding with jihadists who have sowed chaos in Mali in recent years, especially in the north but more recently in the centre as well.


Adam Thiam, a Malian journalist who has written a book on the challenges facing the patchwork of ethnicities living in the country's centre, said Thursday the fragile balance of the region was under threat.

"The central region survives by a very delicate consensus between the different ethnicities... which until now have succeeded in living together," Thiam said.

"The state is absent, leaving behind only the jihadists as representatives, and the population has become more comfortable with their presence to where they perhaps even to prefer it," he warned.

Military reinforcements were on the scene to calm tensions, a security source based in the northern city of Gao confirmed to AFP.

Hundreds of people were displaced by similar violence in February, also between members of the Fulani minority and majority Bambara, and 20 were left dead.

Since the overthrow of Moamer Kadhafi's regime in Libya, weapons have travelled freely from the chaotic state in an arc of unrest through Mali and Niger.

A 2012 rebellion by Tuareg-led rebels was hijacked by jihadists who then seized control of key northern cities, triggering an international military intervention the following year.

Jihadists continue to roam the country's north and centre, mounting attacks on civilians and the army, as well as French and UN forces still stationed in the country.

Read more on:    mali  |  west africa

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