Traditional hunters have fought against jihadists in central Mali since April 12, causing “twenty” deaths on both sides, according to local authorities. About a thousand villagers had to flee the area.
Clashes in Mali between suspected jihadists and traditional hunters (“dozos“) Caused the death of about forty people -” about twenty “in each camp – and the displacement of a thousand others since April 12, the governorate of the regional capital Mopti reported on April 19 in a press release. .
Army reinforcements have been deployed in this area in the center of the country, as well as humanitarian aid for the displaced. The clashes took place in rural communes, Soye and Femaye, located between the main towns in the area, Mopti and Djenné.
The governor’s services explain that “everything started from an antagonism between two brothers, one of whom is a hunter and the other evolving with the alleged jihadist groups”. From AFP, a security source clarified that the clashes began after the traditional hunters decided to “take back” part of the rice collected as Islamic tax by the jihadists, to return it to the local populations.
“The terrorists set fire to two villages […] We have lost a lot of hunters. The survivors moved to neighboring villages, ”said the French agency Sidiki Diarra, spokesperson for traditional hunters in Mégou, in the Djenné region.
Al-Qaeda’s recurring target country center in the Islamic Maghreb
Mali has been plagued since 2012 by a jihadist surge in the northern part of the country, which plunged it into a security crisis that has spread to the center of the country. This violence left thousands of dead and hundreds of thousands displaced, despite the intervention of UN forces, French and African, and spread to Burkina Faso and Niger.
In Mali, the center of the country had to deal in 2015 with the appearance of a jihadist group led by the Fulani preacher Amadou Koufa, affiliated with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqmi). Self-proclaimed self-defense militias were formed in reaction, led by members of the Bambara and Dogon ethnic groups, in particular by relying on traditional “dozo” hunters.
Despite this violence, France intends to pursue its strategy in the Sahel. A report by the deputies of the National Defense and Armed Forces Committee of the National Assembly, unveiled on April 14, also validated the vision promoted by the Elysee Palace, drawing up an “undoubtedly positive” assessment about the Operation Barkhane. The co-rapporteurs Sereine Mauborgne (LREM) and Nathalie Serre (LR) also considered the European force Takuba as a “success for French diplomacy”.
In her report, Nathalie Serre also estimated that negotiations would be “inevitable” in the long term with terrorist groups, as desired by the populations and local governments. While Emmanuel Macron had categorically rejected this possibility in November 2020, the position of the Elysee Palace has changed on the subject, since the French presidency estimated that negotiations would be possible with certain elements of the jihadist groups, while nevertheless remaining excluded with the leaders of Al-Qaeda and those of the Islamic State (IS) group.