More than 130 people were killed in an attack on a Fulani village in central Mali on Saturday, the United Nations said, as a delegation visited the country.
Survivors accused traditional Donzo hunters of carrying out the deadly raid in Ogossagou, according to Boubacar Kane, the governor of Bankass district which covers the village.
“The Secretary-General is shocked and outraged by reports that at least 134 civilians, including women and children, have been killed,” Farhan Haq, spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General on Mali said in a statement, adding that the UN chief called on Malian authorities “to swiftly investigate it and bring the perpetrators to justice”.
The attack was launched at dawn on Saturday in the village near the border with Burkina Faso, according to local officials. The district has been the scene of frequent inter-communal violence.
Witnesses told AFP news agency the attackers burned down nearly all the huts in the village.
Antonio Guterres’s spokesperson said the UN mission in Mali, MINUSMA, provided air support to deter further attacks and assisted with the evacuation of the injured.
The massacre took place as a delegation from the United Nations Security Council visited the Sahel region to assess the security situation of the area.
Earlier the UN said the visiting ambassadors from the Security Council countries met on Saturday with Mali’s Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga and discussed with him the volatile situation in the centre of the country.
Donzo hunters are part of the Bambara, Mali’s largest ethnic group. The semi-nomadic Fulani people are dispersed throughout the Sahel and West Africa.
Saturday’s attack is believed to be the latest in a series of clashes between the communities of Donzo and Fulani – also known as Peul – that have left dozens dead in recent months.
In January, Donzo hunters were blamed for the killing of 37 people in a Fulani village.
The violence is incited by accusations of grazing cattle on Donzo land and disputes over access to land and water, but the area is also troubled by the influence of armed groups, who the Fulani are accused of being tied to.
Armed groups linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, or ISIS) have exploited ethnic rivalries in Mali and its neighbours Burkina Faso and Niger to boost recruitment and render vast swaths of territory in the Sahel region virtually ungovernable.