Agenzia Fides; Reuters; Vatican News – Bamako and Vatican City
Cardinal Jean Zerbo, the Archbishop of Bamako and Mali’s Republican President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, have visited the village of Sobane Da Thursday, in the Mopti region of central Mali, where an armed group carried out a massacre which claimed 35 victims of whom 24 were children.
“The President (Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta), together with Cardinal Zerbo, went to the village to express solidarity with the people,” sources within the Archdiocese of Bamako told Agenzia Fides.
It is suspected that the Jihadist attackers belong to the Peul or Fulani ethnic group and are currently embroiled in an escalating armed conflict with the Bambara and Dogon communities. The former group are nomadic Cattle raring people while the Bambara and the Dogon are sedentary farmers.
Local observers say tensions have escalated over the past few months when the Jihadist group led by Amadou Koufa, established itself in the region and started recruiting young men to attack the Bambara and Dogon people.
President to crackdown on insecurity
Reuters reports that while visiting the troubled areas, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita vowed to crack down on spiralling insecurity.
President Keita cut short a trip to Switzerland last Wednesday to return to Mali for him to handle the fallout from the attack, the latest in a series of retaliatory strikes by the Dogon and Fulani herders. The attacks and retaliatory assaults 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,” the President said in Sobane Da, before visiting the wounded at a local hospital.
Keita’s Government made a similar pledge after an attack in March, this 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 reprisals.
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.
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 shortly after that.