This Saturday, June 18, a hundred motorcycles melted on the villages of Diallassagou, Diamweli, Dessagou, in the circle of Bankass, in the center of the country. According to a security source, the first reports were given in the early evening. It was around 4 p.m., according to local sources, when armed men (two per vehicle) opened fire on the villagers. The massacres continued into the night.
“According to some testimonies, around 40 men were first taken into the bush, including the village chief, to be executed there. From there, the death toll would only have increased, says our source. But what we know about the events remains unclear. The attackers also burned shops, houses, and vehicles and stole livestock. »
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After this first salvo of attacks, the assailants continued their way towards the town of Ségué, located about twenty kilometers northwest of Diallassagou. According to the testimonies that reach us, on the outskirts of this locality, they would have found themselves face to face with dozo hunters, fighters from local self-defense militias, and clashes would then have broken out.
At least 132 dead
Still imprecise, the account of the massacres is accompanied by a balance sheet, still provisional, which continues to increase. Figures published by the Malian government show 132 civilian casualties. But local sources estimate there could be nearly 200.
The Minusma, which facilitated the arrival on the spot of a mission of the authorities from Monday June 20, proceeded to the evacuation of only a handful of wounded towards the city of Sévaré, which suggests that the Most of the victims died. The UN force has announced the opening of an investigation by its human rights division.
If the affected villages are, like central Mali, populated mainly by Fulani and Dogon, lists of names circulating on social networks indicate that a majority of victims (all men) belong to the second ethnic group. “But the Fulani were also necessarily killed in the lot,” says our security source.
Katiba Macina singled out
While they declared, this Monday, June 20, a national mourning of three days, the Malian authorities point the responsibility of Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM), Sahelian branch of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb (AQMI). Bamako particularly accuses the Katiba Macina, a group led by the Fulani preacher Amadou Koufa, very active in the center of the country and historically in conflict with the self-proclaimed self-defense militias made up of Dogons.
If the attack was not claimed, an audio, attributed to GSIM, appeared on social networks. “He mentions the attack. The man who speaks evokes an operation having targeted “allied militiamen”, specifies a security source. The term refers to men who collaborated with the Malian armed forces but especially with the local militias, in the forefront of which the militia of dozo hunters Dan Na Ambassagou, suspected of being responsible for the massacre perpetrated against the Fulani village of Ogossagou in 2019 , which killed more than 160 people. A way for the attackers to deny having killed ordinary civilians.
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Reprisals to Operation Fama?
Since 2015, the date of the creation of the Katiba Macina, central Mali has been the scene of jihadist attacks, abuses attributed to self-defense militias as well as major inter-community clashes. Although the state is largely absent from the area, several military operations have been carried out there in recent months. Interventions often followed by accusations of abuses targeting the Malian Armed Forces (Fama) and the Russian paramilitaries of the Wagner group, who accompany them to the center. The massacres this weekend could have been carried out in retaliation for these operations by the Malian army.
After the massacres attributed to the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (EIGS) in the Ménaka region (north-east of the country), the attacks by terrorist groups in the center, and the accusations of abuses targeting the Malian army and its Russian auxiliaries, this new bloody episode has in any case increased the already very heavy toll of civilian losses since the beginning of the year. In total, Acled (The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project) already counts 2,856 deaths in 2022, whether civilians, members of the security forces or armed groups. Among them, the NGO counts 1,585 civilians killed since January against 533 over the whole of 2021 and 961 in 2020. The year 2022 thus promises to be the bloodiest the country has known since the beginning of the crisis in 2012.