More than 40 civilians were killed in northern Mali when jihadists attacked three villages near the border with Niger, a military officer and local officials said on Monday.
“More than 40 civilians were killed by terrorists on Sunday in the villages of Karou, Ouatagouna, and Daoutegeft,” the officer told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“The terrorists went into the villages and massacred everyone.”
A local official, who also asked not to be identified for security reasons, said, “20 civilians were massacred in Karou. Fourteen civilians were killed in Ouatagouna, and other civilians were killed in the hamlet of Daoutegeft.”
The assailants arrived on motorbike, taking the villagers by surprise, he said.
Mali, a landlocked and impoverished state in the heart of the West Africa’s Sahel region, has been battling a jihadist insurgency since 2012.
The crisis began with unrest in the north of the country that spread to Mali’s ethnically volatile center and then to neighboring Niger and Burkina Faso.
Armed groups linked to Al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State group are steering the campaign today.
Thousands of civilians and troops have died and hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes.