Fulani herders massacred in Mali

A settlement of semi-nomadic Fulani herders was attacked in Mali Jan. 1, with at least 33 residents slain and several homes set aflame. Survivors said the attackers were traditional Dogon hunters, known as dozos. The army was rushed to Koulogon village in central Mopti region to control the situation following the massacre. But the perpetrators may have actually been assisted by the armed forces. Dogon residents of the area have formed a self-defense militia, known as Dana Amassagou (which translates roughly as "hunters in God's hands"), to prevent incursions by jihadists from Mali's conflicted north into the country's central region. The militia is said to have received weapons and training from the official armed forces. However, driven by conflicts over access to land and shrinking water resources, the militia has apparently been attacking local Fulani villages. Hundreds are said to have been killed in clashes between Dogon and Fulani over the past year. A Senegalese rapid reaction force under UN command was deployed to Mopti last year in response to the mounting violence. (All India Radio, Middle East Online, Jan. 2; Al JazeeraBBC News, Jan. 1; IRIN, Sept. 4)

A low-level war meanwhile continues in Mali's desert north—and the conflict shows growing signs of spilling into the more densely populated central and southern regions of the country. Dec. 20 saw French air-strikes on an unnamed jihadist faction in southeastern Mail. At least six presumed militants were killed in the raid, which was launched after a surviellance drone tracked their infiltration from across the border in Niger on motorcycles. France, the former colonial ruler, has deployed a 4,500-member force in Mali to conduct counter-terrorism operations under the rubric of "Operation Barkhane." (AFP, Dec. 20)

Conflicts between nomadic or semi-nomadic pastoralists and sedentary agriculturalists are growing across Africa, often intersecting with ethnic or sectarian rivalries.