Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani
Date: 26 March 2019
Saturday’s horrific attacks in Mali, which left at least 153 people dead and 73 injured, mark a significant spike in killings in the Mopti region as a result of what has been reported to be violence across communal lines and by so-called self-defence groups apparently attempting to root out violent extremist groups.
The attack in Ogossagou, in the Mopti region of central Mali, is the latest in a series of assaults and a cycle of violence that has resulted in some 600 deaths of women, children and men, as well as thousands of displaced persons since March 2018 in the Mopti region alone. Of these, 219 have been killed in the three months since the beginning of this year. The attacks also follow a pattern of burning of homes and warehouses, destroying the livelihoods of the whole community.
Survivors of the attack Saturday in Ogossagou, mostly people of the Fulani ethnic community, said traditional hunters carried out the deadly raid in the village, apparently using automatic weapons, hunting rifles and other weapons. Another attack was reported in the village of Welingara, 3 km west of Ogossagou that resulted in the death of one person.
While some of the disputes are rooted in access over land and water, on many occasions the attacks are said to be motivated by a desire to root out individuals linked to violent extremist groups, including Jama’at nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM). The net result has increasingly been the targeting of members of the Fulani community.
These crimes have gone unpunished. Some investigations have been established by the authorities, but they largely fail to result in trials. We note that the Government has dissolved the Dan Nan Ambassagou militia, composed of Dogon traditional hunters, which is accused of having committed some these atrocities. We urge prompt investigations of the alleged crimes committed by all groups.
A team of 10 human rights officers, a child protection officer and two crime scene investigators from the United Nations Police (UNPOL) of the UN Mission in Mali (MINUSMA)* has been deployed to the Mopti region to conduct a special investigation into Saturday’s terrible attacks.
We are in direct contact with the authorities to help them tackle the cycle of violence in central Mali and to assist them in pursuing swift investigations that bring the perpetrators to justice in order to break the circle of impunity. We also urge the Government to take all the necessary measures to prevent further human rights violations and abuses in the region.
* MINUSMA - United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali.
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