Armed men, allegedly part of the self-named defense militia Dan Na Ambassagou, have invaded a small village in central Mali and killed up to 134 innocent Fulani civilians as part of a wider conflict between the Dogon and Fulani ethnic groups in Mopti region of the country.
Dressed as traditional hunters, armed men stormed into the Fulani village and massacred indiscriminately, killing women and children in the process. The Fulani ethnic group are mainly nomadic herders, with around 3 million in the country of Mali. Mostly Muslim, the Fulani have long been accused by both the state and other ethnic groups like the Dogon for aiding and supporting extremist Islamist groups in northern Mali. The Fulani group have continuously denied these allegations.
The Dogon ethnic group are also a semi-nomadic herding tribe, whose clashes with the Fulani group date back to around 2012, which saw the rise in Islamist militias in the country. Both sides have engaged in violent clashes based on territorial disputes and retribution.
In 2016, members from the Dogon ethnic group formed the self-claimed defense militia Dan Na Ambassagou, which means “hunters who trust in God”, to defend both their territory and families against what they believe to be Fulani aggression. Countering this claim, the Fulani tribe states that they are also acting in self-defense and that the Dogon tribe is in fact funded and armed by the Malian state.
Since 2018 there have been more than 42 reported incidents of violence and clashes which has seen at least 202 civilians killed as a result. The Malian government has since banned the Dan Na Ambassagou militia after the most recent attack on the Fulani, stating that:
[We] condemn with the upmost severity this henious act and express [our] compassion to the famillies of the innocent victims. [We] will continue to ensure the protection of the people, to recreate the conditions of true social cohesion and to promote national reconcilitation.”
The Dan Na Ambassagou group have continuously denied that they were behind the attack on the Fulani village, stating that anyone could have donned their traditional hunter masks.