Hundreds flee Malian village after deadly clash

2017-02-15 21:57
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Bamako - Clashes have forced 600 people to flee their homes in central Mali as traditional herding communities battle with farmers over accusations of jihadist infiltration and land use in areas hit by climate change.

Malian television said on Tuesday night hundreds had fled villages close to the city of Macina after clashes between Fulani herders and Bambara farmers over the weekend.

The death toll from the armed confrontation had risen to 20 from 13, a security ministry communique said on Wednesday, while 16 people were injured.

Four Malian ministers have visited the area and an enquiry has been announced into the causes of the dispute.

The clashes were allegedly triggered by the murder of a Bambara farmer on Saturday named as Cheickna Traore.

It was followed by retribution killings against Fulanis (known as Peuls in French) accused of being jihadists who had organised the assassination.

A report last month by Human Rights Watch described an "Islamist armed group presence and intimidation of the population" that has "steadily increased" in central Mali, as well as an uptick in banditry and criminality.

The South African-based Institute for Security Studies has highlighted drought driven by climate change as leaving herders unable to feed their animals in northern Mali, forcing them to move south.

They are then "forced into the valleys where conflicts often arise with farmers over land and water," according to a report released last year.

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

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

Read more on:    moammar gaddafi  |  libya  |  mali  |  west africa

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