Militia head refutes his group responsible for Mali massacre


BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — The head of an ethnic Dogon militia blamed for a massacre in central Mali denied Monday that his fighters had been involved in the gruesome attack that left 154 dead in an ethnic Peuhl village.

Youssouf Toloba also dismissed the Malian president’s vow to eliminate the group, saying “he isn’t the one who created it.”

Human Rights Watch has said that Toloba’s ethnic militia known as Dan Na Ambassagou has been implicated in scores of deadly attacks over the past year. The militia has accused ethnic Peuhl of collaborating with Islamic extremists increasingly operating in central Mali.

Suspicion immediately fell on the group after Saturday’s massacre in Ogossagou, an ethnic Peuhl village in central Mali. Graphic video after the attack showed bodies burned inside homes with some wreckage still on fire. At one point the body of a young boy in a football jersey can be seen.

Toloba maintained in an interview with The Associated Press on Monday that his fighters were not responsible. He defended his militia, saying it was necessary because the Malian military was failing to respond to violence in Dogon villages.

CBS Forced to Delete Segment After Most Embarrassing Biden Reporting in History Exposed On-Air

“We had signed a cease-fire agreement and the government promised to secure Dogon country but then nothing was done,” he said.

“If the government and the international community want this war to stop, I invite them to hold an intercommunal dialogue during which all the armed groups in central Mali can discuss it,” he continued. “It’s the only way to bring peace back to the region.”

While Toloba insists his militia fighters are protecting Dogon villages, they are believed to have access to semi-autonomic weapons, making their attacks on Peuhl communities particularly deadly.

The militia leader’s comments come a day after Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita had a special cabinet meeting to address the weekend bloodshed and vowed to wipe out Dan Na Ambassagou.

His pledge was met with skepticism given the numerous challenges the government faces.

“Making a decree is one thing but applying it in the context of central Mali is another,” said Ibrahim Maiga, a researcher at the Institute of Security Studies. “I doubt that the state has the means to disarm this militia in the center especially since the factors that helped create it are still there.”

The Peuhl and Dogon ethnic groups had long co-existed peacefully but that has been unraveled over the last several years. The deadly conflict has been fueled by a proliferation in arms and an Islamic insurgency moving ever further south from its strongholds in Mali’s north, said Corinne Dufka, Sahel director of Human Rights Watch.

The Peuhl are accused of working alongside jihadists from the Islamic State of Greater Sahara to attack Dogon villages and prevent them from cultivating their land.

They in turn have alleged that the Dogons are collaborating with the Malian military though there is no conclusive sign of state support.

Serial Killer Who Started String of Murders at 14 Found Dead in Jail Cell

“All communities have suffered violence from opposing armed groups. The Peuhl have disproportionally suffered because the reprisals by the Dogon and Bambara militias have been exponentially more lethal attacks,” Dufka said. “Attacks have not been met with a proper state response both in terms of protection and justice.”


Associated Press writer Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal contributed to report.

The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City. Their teams in over 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting. They provide content and services to help engage audiences worldwide, working with companies of all types, from broadcasters to brands. Photo credit: @AP on Twitter
The Associated Press was the first private sector organization in the U.S. to operate on a national scale. Over the past 170 years, they have been first to inform the world of many of history's most important moments, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the fall of the Shah of Iran and the death of Pope John Paul.

Today, they operate in 263 locations in more than 100 countries relaying breaking news, covering war and conflict and producing enterprise reports that tell the world's stories.
New York City