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Mali arrests five suspects in killing of 157 villagers

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BAMAKO (Reuters) – Malian authorities have detained five people suspected of taking part in the massacre of at least 157 villagers, a prosecutor said on Friday, following one of the worst attacks in Africa’s Sahel region in living memory.

The March 23 raid by suspected hunters from the Dogon community on Ogossagou, a village in central Mali populated by rival Fulani herders, was part of a wider surge in ethnic and jihadist violence across Mali and neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Prosecution for violent acts related to conflict in the Sahel is rare, and widespread impunity is among the reasons communities take it upon themselves to exact revenge in tit-for-tat killings.

“Among the wounded taken care of by the medical service, five were formally recognised by others who had been wounded as being among the assailants,” Aza Ould Mohamed Nazim, a prosecutor in the Mopti region, told Reuters.

He said the five had been transported to the capital Bamako and placed under guard.

The United Nations dispatched human rights experts to the area this week to investigate the killings, and the International Criminal Court also said the crimes could fall under its jurisdiction.

(Reporting By Tiemoko Diallo, Writing by Aaron Ross, Editing by William Maclean)

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