President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of
Mali on Thursday visited the site of an ethnic massacre in central Mali in
which gunmen killed dozens of people, vowing once again to crack down on
Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar
Keita visits the site of an ethnic massacre in which gunmen killed dozens of
people, in the Dogon village of Sobane Da, Mali June 13, 2019, in this still
image taken from video. ORTM via Reuters TV/
Attackers believed to belong to the
Fulani ethnic group raided the ethnic Dogon village of Sobane Da on Sunday and
Monday, killing 35 people, according to the government, although a local
authority maintains the real figure is 95 deaths. Neither has produced evidence
for these tolls.
Keita cut short a trip to
Switzerland on Wednesday to return to Mali and handle the fallout from the
attack, the latest in a series of retaliatory strikes by Dogon hunters and
Fulani herders that have killed hundreds of civilians this year.
“The state will proceed immediately
to disarm anyone who illegally owns a firearm and those who refuse to surrender
their arms will be sanctioned severely by the law,” he said in Sobane Da,
before visiting the wounded at a local hospital.
Keita’s government made a similar
pledge after an attack in March by suspected Dogon militiamen that killed more
than 150 Fulani villagers. But it has struggled to disarm militias, whom local
communities look to for protection from Islamist militants and ethnic
The violence between Dogon and
Fulani and regular attacks by jihadist groups with links to al Qaeda and
Islamic State have led many Malians to lose faith in their government’s ability
to protect them.
Keita’s government also announced it
had fired General Sidy Alassane Toure as governor of the Mopti region where the
killings occurred. It declared three days of national mourning.
Toure became the latest government
official to lose his job as a result of authorities’ failure to contain
spiraling ethnic violence around Mopti.
After the March attack in the
village of Ogossagou, Mali’s worst act of violence in years, Keita dismissed
two top army officials. His prime minister and entire government also resigned
The new prime minister, Boubou
Cisse, visited the scene of this week’s killing on Tuesday, and said that among
the dead were 24 children, some of whom had been shot in the back.
French forces intervened in Mali, a
former French colony, in 2013 to push back a jihadist advance from the north,
but the militants have since regrouped and turned parts of north and central
Mali into a launchpad for attacks across the region.