DAKAR (Reuters) – The previous head of Mali’s militaries left the village of Ogossagou unguarded earlier this year in spite of numerous cautions of an impending massacre in which 35 individuals passed away, according to a United Nations report.
The incident highlights a failure by Mali’s security forces to safeguard civilians that is weakening efforts to stop spiralling ethnic and jihadist violence in West Africa’s Sahel region, it stated.
In February, army chief Keba Sangare permitted a military unit charged with protecting Ogossagou in main Mali to withdraw in spite of repetitive telephone calls and messages about a most likely attack, according to the report seen by Reuters on Friday ahead of its main release.
Simply ten hours later, an ethnic Dogon militia robbed the town of Fulani herders, eliminating 35, consisting of females and children as young as four.
” Victims were chased after into bushes, and some were mutilated and others beheaded,” said the report put together by the U.N.’s panel of specialists on Mali.
A year previously, the massacre of 160 civilians in Ogossagou had prompted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to order an army unit be placed in the location to secure the town.
Sangare “gave a false guarantee to his hierarchy, including the Minister of Defence, that the unit would not leave prior to the arrival of the replacement unit”, according to the report.
The army did not react to a request for remark. Sangare might not be reached for comment.
Following the attack Sangare was suspended and later replaced, however the incident included to public anger over the authorities’ viewed incompetence that has resulted in massive demonstrations this summertime calling for Keita’s resignation.
Mali has actually struggled to regain stability because a 2012 uprising by Tuaregs in the north was hijacked by al Qaeda-linked Islamist militants.
Former colonial power France intervened in 2013 to drive back militants. However despite the existence of thousands of peacekeepers, Islamist groups have sprung back, stiring ethnic rivalries to increase recruitment and destabilise the area.
Reporting by Aaron Ross; Extra reporting by Tiemoko Diallo in Bamako; Composing by Hereward Holland; Editing by Alessandra Prentice and Giles Elgood