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Dozens killed in new attacks on central Mali villages

Michele Cattani, AFP | Malian soldiers on patrol in the central region of the country in October 2018.

Unidentified gunmen on motorbikes attacked two villages in central Mali, killing at least 41 people in a part of the country where ethnic reprisal attacks have surged in recent months, a local mayor told FRANCE 24's correspondent in Bamako.

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The attacks on Monday evening on the villages of Yoro and Gangafani compound a dire security situation in central Mali, where ethnic militias have stepped up attacks on civilians from rival groups and Islamist militants are also active.

The victims of Monday's raids were mostly ethnic Dogons, said Issiaka Ganame, the mayor of Yoro, where 24 people were killed. Another 17 died in Gangafani, the mayor told FRANCE 24's Christelle Pire.

An unnamed military source quoted by AFP gave a lower toll of at least 20 killes.

The tit-for-tat violence in recent months has largely pitted Dogon hunters against Fulani herders.

Last week, gunmen raided a Dogon village in central Mali, killing at least 35 people according to a government toll and more than twice as many according to local officials.

In March, suspected Dogon militiamen killed more than 150 Fulani in two villages in central Mali, one of the worst acts of bloodshed in the country's recent history.

>> Mali's President Keita visits site of massacre of ethnic Dogons

Last month, the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA, announced it had recorded "at least 488 deaths" in attacks on Fulanis in the central regions of Mopti and Segou since January 2018.

Armed Fulanis "caused 63 deaths" among civilians in the Mopti region over the same period, it said.

The Fulani are primarily cattle breeders and traders, while the Bambara and Dogon are traditionally sedentary farmers.

Located in the heart of the Sahel, Mali is one of the world's poorest countries.

Unrest in the volatile central region coincides with an ongoing jihadist campaign that the Mali government is struggling to contain, despite military support from France and UN peacekeepers.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AP, AFP)

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