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Mali: Armed group kills dozens at wedding celebration

July 3, 2024

Dozens of guests, many of them young people, at a wedding ceremony had their throats cut by a group of armed men. Mali has been struggling with violence from extremist groups for over 10 years.

A Malian village in the Dogon region close to Bandiagara
Due to the isolation of many Malian villages and towns, news of attacks can often take days to be confirmedImage: Nicolas Remene/Le Pictorium/MAXPPP/dpa/picture alliance

An armed group attacked a wedding ceremony in central Mali on Monday, killing at least 21 people, residents and local officials said on Wednesday.

The attack happened in the village of Djiguibombo, not far from the town of Bandiagara, in the center of the country. One local official pointed the finger at jihadists.

The West African nation's military rulers have been struggling to combat growing violence by extremists.

Guests massacred, homes looted

The assailants rode on motorcycles into the village on Monday evening and crashed the wedding celebrations, the President of the local youth group, Bakary Guindo said.

"Most of the victims had their throats slit," Guindo added, others were shot dead. A youth representative said that the attack began before nightfall and "lasted around three hours," adding that more than half were "young people."

Ginna Dogon, an organization that represents the Dogon ethnic group, said the attackers looted people's houses, set fire to a health center and stole livestock and supplies.

It is "the latest tragedy in a dark series that the Dogon country has been going through for several years, with daily attacks on villages, farmers in the fields, killings and kidnappings," the group said.

So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack. However, it bears similarities to previous attacks by the al-Qaida-linked JNIM extremist group, which has targeted the region multiple times before.

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Security situation getting worse

Communities across central and northern Mali have faced instability and violence since groups affiliated with al-Qaida and so-called "Islamic State" began launching attacks in 2012.

The security situation in the country has deteriorated significantly, especially since the military junta, which took power in 2020, cut its cooperation with France. French troops had been involved in anti-insurgency operations in its former colony.

Following France's expulsion, extremist groups have regained ground. Thousands have been killed in the violence and hundreds of thousands have been displaced.

In the almost four years since military rulers seized power in Mali, the government has struggled to contain the violence.

sp/ab (AP, AFP)