Suspected jihadists kill dozens in vehicle attack in central Mali

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Suspected jihadists killed at least 30 civilians in an attack on a passenger car in the volatile Mopti in central Mali, local officials said on Saturday.

“The passengers were shot and the vehicle burned” during an attack by “terrorists” near the town of Bandiagara on Friday, authorities told AFP.

“The state has sent security forces to the scene,” they said, speaking on condition of anonymity.An elected official in Bandiagara confirmed the death toll and said the victims included women and children.

The attack has not been reported by any of the many armed groups active in the West African country.Mali has been fighting to contain an Islamist insurgency that first erupted in the north in 2012 and has since claimed thousands of military and civilian lives.

Despite the presence of thousands of French and UN troops, the conflict has engulfed central Mali and spread to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Central Mali has become one of the most violent hotspots in the conflict in the entire Sahel, where ethnic killings and attacks on government forces are frequent.

A military coup last year, sparked after a massive protest against the ongoing violence, has failed to stop the bloodshed.

(AFP)