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Jihadist massacre in Mali: locals call for state protection

Jihadist massacre in Mali: locals call for state protection
FILE - A supporter of Mali's interim president Assimi Goita holds up his image during ...   -  
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A group of Malians demonstrated in the central city of Bankass on Tuesday (June 21) to demand state protection after more than 130 civilians were killed by jihadists in neighbouring villages.

Mali suffered one of its worst civilian killings over the weekend, the latest in an ongoing series across the Sahel.

According to the government, 132 civilians were killed by men from the Katiba Macina, the group of Fulani preacher Amadou Kouffa, in Diallassagou and two surrounding localities, a few dozen kilometres from Bankass.

The head of the junta, Colonel Assimi Goïta, declared three days of mourning. The political class in Bamako unanimously expressed its compassion while rallying once again around the armed forces.

However, the Cadre d'échange, a grouping of a dozen parties, a rare critical voice, asked Colonel Goïta to go to the scene and appealed "to the responsibility of the authorities to take the necessary measures so that such tragedies do not happen again.

The government sent a delegation to the scene on Tuesday, 500 km northeast of Bamako.

The population is demonstrated in Bankass, the capital of the area. Photos sent by a Dogon community association show several dozen people gathered in the street.

"We are gathered despite the rain to demand security and condemn the crimes. The government must ensure our security," Oumar Togo, a member of the Bankass youth association, told AFP by phone.

Local officials reporting the events said dozens of jihadists arrived on motorbikes, rounded up and massacred men, destroyed shops by fire, looted villages and stole cattle. The bloodbath reportedly culminated on Saturday night.

Search continues as of Tuesday, June 21, raising fears of an even higher death toll.

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