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Mali fires regional governor after attack that killed dozens

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BAMAKO (Reuters) – Mali’s council of ministers has fired the governor of its central Mopti region, after gunmen killed dozens of people in the latest of a spate of ethnic killings there, it said in a statement.

Attackers believed to belong to the Fulani ethnic group raided a rival ethnic Dogon village in Bankass on Sunday and Monday, killing 35 people, according to the government, although a local authority maintains the real figure is 95 deaths. Neither has produced evidence for these tolls.

The government also declared three days of national mourning in the statement overnight.

“Drawing lessons from this tragedy, the council of ministers dismissed the Mopti region’s governor,” the statement read. Sidy Alassane Toure was the latest government official to lose his job as a result of authorities’ failure to contain spiralling ethnic violence around Mopti.

After an attack in March that killed more than 150 Fulani villagers in Mali’s worst act of violence in years, President Boubacar Keita dismissed two top army officials and his prime minister and entire government resigned.

The new prime minister, Boubou Cisse, visited the scene of this week’s killing on Tuesday, and said that among the dead were 24 children, some of whom had been shot in the back.

Violence between Dogon hunters and Fulani herders has killed hundreds since January, and the Malian government is seen as having lost its grip over parts of the country suffering jihadist infiltration.

French forces intervened in Mali, a former French colony in West Africa, in 2013 to push back a jihadist advance from the north but the militants have since regrouped and turned parts of north and central Mali into a launchpad for attacks across the region.

The militants have also proved adept at stoking tensions between rival ethnic groups, and intercommunal clashes have this year overtaken jihadist attacks as a leading cause of violent death in Mali, figures from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) show.

Malians have grown increasingly frustrated by failures of the government to protect them from both jihadist onslaughts and ethnic reprisals.

(Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Juliette Jabkhiro; Editing by Tim Cocks and Frances Kerry)

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