Military and administrative authorities in central Mali were still counting the casualties one day after jihadists stormed the village of Kani-Bonzon.
An elected official in the area worries that the death toll could reach 20 if at least 13 people are confirmed dead.
For funeral prayers on Friday, February 24, grieving families gathered.
A witness recalls when the rebels showed up.
“They come in large numbers. The initial group was small in size. There were a ton of them after another group crossed the hill.”
According to reports, attackers attacked the village on Thursday, February 23, and set homes on fire. There have been rumors that three people were kidnapped.
A representative of the local government reported cattle theft. The governor of the Bandiagara region, Sidi Mohamed El Bechi, urged restraint: “I implore everyone not to yield to intimidation. not to give in to those who only want to destroy the peace that the people of the Bandiagara region are helping to build. This is very significant.”
Since 2015 and the arrival of the Katiba Macina group, which has connections to Al-Qaeda, central Mali has become one of the hotspots for jihadist violence in the Sahel region.
Following the attack on Thursday, residents of the nearby town of Bandiagara demonstrated on Friday to call for increased security, according to a representative of the local government.
Armed groups in the country’s center are reportedly continuing to take advantage of intercommunity tensions in order to expand their influence and attract new members, according to a UN report released in January.
Since 2020, Mali has been governed by a military coup. In late 2021, as it began to sever ties with France, its longtime ally and the former colonial power, and as it sought out new partners, the authorie launched a significant operation in the center.