At least 30 dead in suspected jihadist attack in central Mali
BAMAKO, Mali – Suspected jihadists in central Mali killed at least 30 civilians in an attack on a passenger vehicle in the volatile town of Mopti, local officials said on Saturday.
“The passengers were sprayed with bullets and the vehicle set on fire” during an attack by “terrorists” near the town of Bandiagara on Friday, officials told AFP.
“The state sent security forces to the scene,” they said on condition of anonymity.
The mayor of Bandiagara, Housseini Saye, said the truck was carrying around 50 civilians when the gunmen attacked the vehicle on Friday about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from the town.
“The shooting sparked the truck on fire and 31 people died, most of them burned alive,” said the mayor, who is also a member of Mali’s transitional parliament. “There were several injured and two missing.
The attack was not claimed by any of the many armed groups active in the West African country.
Mali’s transitional government said in a statement broadcast on state television that 31 people had been killed and 17 injured, and pledged to do whatever is necessary to “arrest and punish” the perpetrators.
Mali is struggling to contain an Islamist insurgency that first erupted in the north in 2012 and has since claimed thousands of lives among the military and civilians.
Despite the presence of thousands of French and UN soldiers, the conflict engulfed central Mali and spread to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.
Central Mali has become one of the most violent hot spots of the Sahel-wide conflict, where ethnic killings and attacks on government forces are common.
A military junta toppled the government last year after mass protests against violence, but the new rules failed to stem the bloodshed.