Eight people have died in violent clashes between two ethnic groups in central Mali, local sources told AFP Thursday, as tensions grow over use of land and food scarcity in the region. Increased availability of arms from Libya has also contributed to intercommunal violence in Mali, experts say, while drought has forced herders into areas traditionally cultivated by farmers.
Cattle rustling in the village of Tougou angered traditional hunters who cultivate the land with their animals, a local official told AFP on condition of anonymity, who then carried out reprisals Wednesday against Fulani people they believed had stolen the cows.
Clashes in the nearby town of Diabaly “killed eight people”, the source said. Fulani people are frequently accused of criminality and colluding with Takfiri militants who have sowed chaos in Mali in recent years, especially in the north but more recently in the center as well.
A hospital source confirmed 13 wounded people had arrived on Wednesday night for treatment, with victims corroborating the deaths of eight people. Military reinforcements were on the scene to calm tensions, a security source based in the northern city of Gao confirmed to AFP.
Hundreds of people were displaced by similar violence in February, also between members of the Fulani minority and majority Bambara people, and 20 were left dead. Since the overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi’s regime in Libya, weapons have traveled freely from the chaotic state in an arc of unrest through Mali and Niger.