BAMAKO, MALI –
Pro-government militia killed four members of the Peuhl ethnic group in central Mali and then struck again at the funeral, killing nine more victims, a local community group said Wednesday.
The attacks mark the latest violence targeting members of the Peuhl community, who have been accused of collaborating with Islamic extremist groups active in the area.
Sekou Bah, the secretary-general of a group called Dental Wuwarbe, said four victims were killed over the weekend while eating at a restaurant. The next day, nine more Peuhls were fatally shot while at the cemetery for the burial, he said.
A spokesman for Mali’s security minister said investigators were looking into the reports of the 13 killed.
“We sent a team of investigators two days ago to shed light on this incident and for the moment we are awaiting the results,” said spokesman Amadou Sangho.
In addition to the violence blamed on pro-government militias, local Peuhl groups also have accused the Malian military of arresting, torturing and killing civilians.
Ethnic Peuhls are accused of supporting an extremist group known as the Macina Liberation Front, which has been carrying out attacks in central Mali. The violence has worried residents because it represents an escalation in extremism much further south.
Northern Mali fell under the control of al-Qaida and other extremists in 2012. A French-led military offensive forced them from the region’s main cities and towns the following year, but they have since regrouped to launch scores of attacks on peacekeepers and soldiers. Al-Qaida militants also carried out a major attack on a hotel in Mali’s capital late last year, killing 20 people.
SOURCE: VOICE OF AMERICA