Mali bans hunting society after attack kills 130 Fulani

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A traditional Fulani village in MaliImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Fulani are semi-nomadic herders

Mali's government has banned the group of hunters it says was behind an attack in which more than 130 villagers were killed.

At dawn on Saturday, gunmen surrounded a village of the Fulani ethnic community who are accused of having ties to jihadists.

The hunters had said the army failed to protect them against jihadists.

The attack took place while UN ambassadors were in Mali to discuss increased violence.

The Security Council mission met Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga to talk about the increased threat from jihadist fighters in central Mali.

The victims of Saturday's deadly attack in Ogossagou in the Mopti region were "killed with guns and machetes", a local security official told AFP news agency.

Witnesses also told AFP that nearly all the huts in the village had been burned down.

The mayor of the neighbouring village of Ouenkoro, Cheick Harouna Sankare, described the attack as a "massacre".

Clashes between ethnic Dogon hunters and semi-nomadic Fulani herders can occur over access to land and water.

The Dogon also accuse Fulanis of ties to jihadist groups while the Fulanis claim that Mali's military has armed hunters to attack them.

The group the government banned, Dan Na Ambassagou, which translates as "hunters who trust in God", are an umbrella group of Dogon self-defence groups, or traditional hunting societies, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

A Dogon militia leader previously complained to HRW that the army has been unable to protect their villages against jihadist attacks so they set up their own self-defence groups.

After the attacks the government announced that the commanders of the Malian military would be changed.

Last year, hundreds of people died in clashes between Dogon hunters and members of the Fula ethnic group.

On Friday, a Mali-based al-Qaeda affiliate said it had carried out an attack last week on a military base that left more than 20 soldiers dead.

The militants said it was in response to violence against Fulani herdsmen.

One Ogossagou resident, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters news agency that Saturday's violence appeared to be in retaliation for the attack on the soldiers.