BAMAKO, Mali - At least Ninety five people have been killed during an attack on a traditional Dogon hunters' village in the West African nation of Mali, with the death toll likely to rise.
The attack, which took place on Sunday, on Sobanou-Kou village, has prompted outrage from UN Secretary-General António Guterres who has called on authorities to act fast and "bring the perpetrators to justice".
"I am outraged by reports that at least 95 civilians, including women and children, have been killed following an attack yesterday in central Mali," the UN chief said in a tweet posted on Monday. "My heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims, the people and the government of Mali," the Twitter post added.
The spokesperson said Mr Guterres "strongly" condemned the attack and called on the Malian authorities "to investigate this tragedy".
He also urged the government and all actors to "engage in intercommunal dialogue to resolve tensions and differences".
Separately, the UN Stabilization Mission in Mali, (MINUSMA) said it was "extremely concerned" at the news of the attack.
Preliminary information points to the attack being carried out by a group of armed men aligned to the Fulani ethnic group, and according to news reports, many of the bodies of the dead had been burned. Clashes between Dogon hunters, who have a highly distinctive traditional culture dating back centuries, and the semi-nomadic Fulani herders, have become a growing flash point in recent years.
While no one has yet claimed responsibility for this attack, tensions have been rising since the ethnic Dogon hunters were accused of carrying out a massacre on the semi-nomadic Fulani herders' village in March.
"These traditional disputes have always been there", often fuelled by disputes over access to land and water. "But lately it has taken on a particularly deadly turn because entire Fulani communities - and we are talking about millions of people - are being painted as violent extremists simply because they are Muslim," spokesperson for the UN human rights office (OHCHR), Ravina Shamdasani, said Monday.
Sobanou-Kou village reportedly has lost a third of its 300 population. The mayor of the vilage confirmed on Monday that aside from the 95 recorded deaths, there are another eleven people missing.
The Special Representative in Mali, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, said he was "shocked and outraged" by the attack.
"I strongly condemn this act of unspeakable barbarity", he stated, adding that this "spiral of violence" underscores that there are no bad guys on one side and good on the other.
"Everyone is responsible", he stressed. "The situation has passed the threshold of tolerable, and it is time for the nation to wake up", added the MINUSMA chief.
(File photo | Credit International Crisis Group).