Four civilians were killed on Friday by unidentified armed men in central Mali, AFP learned from a family member, a community leader and a security source.
“My brother was with other people returning by motorcycle from the Bandiagara market. Armed men opened fire on them. Four civilians were killed on the spot and two others were wounded. The killers disappeared quickly,” Ali Ogobara, a relative of one of the victims, told AFP.
An official of the Association for the Development of the Bandiagara Circle (ADB), Seydou Timbiné, confirmed the facts. “This is a cowardly and barbaric attack. Civilians were leaving Bandiagara for the village of Tégrou. We call on the Malian government to take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of the civilian population… (…) There are too many weapons and gangs circulating,” said Mr. Timbiné.
He added that the two injured had been transferred to a health centre “to receive first aid”.
A Malian security source also confirmed the deaths of “four civilians killed by armed men near Bandiagara”.
Last week, 18 civilians were killed in a double ambush by armed men two days apart in the same commune in central Mali.
Northern Mali had fallen in March-April 2012 under the control of jihadist groups linked to al-Qaeda. These groups have been largely driven out by an international military intervention, launched in January 2013 at the initiative of France, which continues.
But entire areas of the country are still beyond the control of Malian, French and UN forces, which are regularly targeted by attacks, despite the signing in May-June 2015 of a peace agreement, which is supposed to definitively isolate jihadists, whose implementation is running behind schedule.
Since 2015, these attacks have spread to central and southern Mali and the phenomenon is spreading to neighbouring countries, particularly Burkina Faso and Niger, very often mixing with inter-community conflicts.