The U.N. human rights chief said Friday that 580 civilians have been killed in central Mali this year amid worsening inter-communal violence, faulting security forces for rights violations and saying radical groups like the regional wings of al-Qaida and Islamic State are fanning and exploiting it.
The office of Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, urged Malian authorities to set up “prompt, thorough, impartial and independent investigations” into alleged rights violations and abuses, adding: “This is the only way to reverse this trend of continuing violence.”
She said in a statement that Malian security forces deployed to the area “have themselves been involved” in rights violations — mostly against the Peulh community, which is primarily made up of herders. Violence has include burning houses and killing cattle.
Militias from the Peulh community were behind dozens of violent incidents with the Dogon community — mainly farmers and hunters — that killed 210 people, her office said. Dogon-related groups carried out 12 attacks, leaving at least 82 people dead, it said.
The human rights division of the U.N. peacekeeping mission has documented “230 extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions” attributed to the Malian military in the central regions of Mopti and Segou, Bachelet’s office said.
She lamented “a situation of chronic insecurity for the civilian population, who are not able to count on the protection of the Malian forces.”
“This needs to stop,” Bachelet said.