Suspected jihadists killed 40 Tuaregs, mostly young men, in two attacks in northern Mali’s Menaka region, which the local governor said seemed calculated to spark an ethnic conflict between Tuareg and Fulani herders.
Menaka governor Daouda Maiga told Reuters by telephone that the attacks happened in the remote desert villages of Awakassa on Friday and in Anderanboucane, a day earlier.
Jihadist groups are seen as the greatest threat to security across Africa’s Sahel region. They have proved adept at exploiting local tensions between ethnic groups to sow discord — such as those between mostly lighter-skinned Tuareg and black Fulani herdsmen over scarce watering points in the Sahara.
Bajan Ag Hamatou, a local legislator, confirmed the attack, as did Menaka town’s mayor, Nanout Kotia.