The United Nations has strongly condemned the armed attack on a village in restive central Mali which reportedly left at least 134 people dead and dozens wounded early on Saturday.
"We condemn in the strongest terms this unspeakable attack," said François Delattre, France's UN Ambassador speaking as President of the UN Security Council at a press conference Saturday evening in the Malian capital, Bamako.
A Council delegation has been in the country since late last week as part of a mission to Africa's troubled Sahel region. The trip will wrap up tomorrow in Burkina Faso.
Located in Mali's central Mopti region, the village of Ogossou-Peulh was attacked on Saturday morning, reportedly by armed men dressed as traditional hunters.
Calling the attack an act of "unspeakable barbarity," Kakou Houadja Leon Adom, the Ambassador of Côte d'Ivoire to the UN and co-organizer with France and Germany of the Council's Mali visit, expressed condolences to the families of the victims , as well as to the people and the Government.
Meanwhile, a UN spokesperson said Secretary-General António Guterres was "shocked and outraged" by reports that at least 134 civilians, including women and children, were killed and at least 55 had been injured in the attack.
"The Secretary-General condemns this act and calls on the Malian authorities to swiftly investigate it and bring the perpetrators to justice," according to a statement, which added that the UN chief expressed his condolences to the families of the victims, the Malian people and Government, and wished a speedy recovery to the injured.
The Secretary-General called on the Malian authorities to "redouble their efforts to bring back peace and stability to central Mali."
In a separate statement condemning the attack, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the Head of UN integrated mission, MINUSMA, called for an end to the spiral of violence in Mali and reported that as part of the mission's civilian protection mandate, a rapid response force had been deployed to the scene. The mission was also working to ensure the wounded were evacuated to the nearby town of Sévaré, he added.
"This unspeakable tragedy... unfortunately reminds us that the challenges [in central Mali] are many," he said, calling on the Malian authorities to launch an investigation "so that justice is done and the perpetrators of this atrocity answer for their actions."
Deadly violence on the rise in Mopti region
The Mopti region has been the scene of deadly violence since the beginning of the year.
Last Sunday, the camp of the Malian Armed Forces (FAMAs) in the village of Dioura suffered an attack in which several of its soldiers were killed. On 26 February, 10 people from the Dogon community were killed in an attack on the village of Gondogourou. Further, on 1 January, 37 people were executed in the Fulani village of Kulogon by unidentified armed elements.
At the press conference, Ambassador Delattre recalled, in the context of a recent Security Council resolution extending MINUSMA until the end of June, that the question of central Mali was an integral part of the mandate of the UN peace operation.
"MINUSMA is to support the Malian State through the protection of civilians," he said in response to a question from a journalist.
The situation in central Mali was at the heart of the various meetings that members of the Security Council had in Bamako. "The unanimous message [we received] is that it is essential to break this negative dynamic between the different communities, and to do everything to try and recreate a virtuous circle," said Ambassador Delattre.
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