Toll from attack in central Mali rises to 17

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The toll from an inter-ethnic attack in central Mali, which occurred in the runup to crucial elections, has risen from at least three dead to 17, sources said on Friday.

Armed men described as traditional hunters attacked the village of Somena on Wednesday, marking the latest flare up between nomadic Fulani and farmers from the Bambara and Dogon communities.

Abdoul Aziz Diallo, president of Tabital Pulaaku, the main Fulani association in Mali, said 17 people had died.

"We recovered all the bodies of the Fulani civilians who were killed and thrown into a well by Dogon hunters," he said.

The death toll of 17, inflicted by "armed men," was confirmed independently by a Malian government official who gave no further details.

On July 17, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) said at least 289 civilians had died in "inter-communal violence" since the start of the year.

Nearly 77% of violent incidents occurred in the central region of Mopti, the UNHCR said.

Malian voters go to the polls on Sunday to elect a new president.

The incumbent, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who was elected in 2013, has been accused by rivals of incompetence.

In addition to ethnic clashes, jihadist violence has spread from northern Mali to the centre and south and spilled into neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger, often inflaming communal conflicts.

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