Mali president heads for Dogon village where dozens killed
By Tiemoko Diallo
BAMAKO, June 13 (Reuters) - President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of Mali went on Thursday to visit the site of an ethnic massacre in central Mali in which gunmen killed dozens of people, his office said.
Attackers believed to belong to the Fulani ethnic group raided a rival ethnic Dogon village in Bankass on Sunday and Monday, killing 35 people, according to the government, although a local authority maintains the real figure is 95 deaths. Neither has produced evidence for these tolls.
Keita cut short a trip to Switzerland on Wednesday to return to Mali and handle the fallout from the attack.
Mali's council of ministers fired the governor of the region in which the killings occurred, one of several such atrocities there over the past few months. It also declared three days of national mourning.
Malians have grown increasingly frustrated by the failure of Keita's government to protect them from both Islamist militant attacks and ethnic reprisals.
"The president of the republic sends his condolences to the families of the departed, and his compassion and comfort to the wounded," a council of ministers statement read. "It should be recalled that the president cut short his work trip to Geneva to be present among the population in their pain."
Mopti Governor General Sidy Alassane Toure was the latest government official to lose his job as a result of authorities' failure to contain spiraling ethnic violence around Mopti.
After an attack in March that killed more than 150 Fulani villagers, the West African country's worst act of violence in years, Keita dismissed two top army officials and his prime minister and entire government resigned.
The new prime minister, Boubou Cisse, visited the scene of this week's killing on Tuesday, and said that among the dead were 24 children, some of whom had been shot in the back.
Violence between Dogon hunters and Fulani herders has killed hundreds since January, and the Malian government is seen as having lost its grip over parts of the country suffering jihadist infiltration.
French forces intervened in Mali, a former French colony, in 2013 to push back a jihadist advance from the north, but the militants have since regrouped and turned parts of north and central Mali into a launchpad for attacks across the region.
(Writing by Juliette Jabkhiro Editing by Tim Cocks and Mark Heinrich)
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