At least 51 people were killed in the Mali village raid, district officials say

Bamako — At least 51 people were killed when Islamic extremists attacked three villages in central Mali near the border with Niger, district managers said Monday.

Wataguna, Kalaw, and Dutegev were attacked at the same time around 6 pm on Sunday, according to a memo from the Asongo district manager to the Governor of the Gao region.

A UN mission in Mali said it would secure the area where the attack took place and deploy additional troops to strengthen existing patrols.

Houses were looted and burned down, and herds of livestock were carried away, according to an administrator’s note seen by Reuters.

“The provisional toll killed 51 people and injured several others,” he said.

No group is yet responsible for attacks in areas where the Malian Armed Forces, French and European troops, and the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces are fighting rebels associated with ISIS and al-Qaeda terrorist groups.

“These deliberate attacks on civilians constitute a serious breach of international human rights and humanitarian law,” said a UN statement.

“They tend to be classified as crimes against humanity.”

Local sources told Reuters that the militants were stationed at the entrance to the town and fired indiscriminately at civilians.

The manager said there were Malian troops sweeping the area. He also called on military escorts to “help the funeral, reassure the inhabitants, and condolence to the bereaved family,” according to the memo.

Colonel Souleymane Dembele, a Malian army spokesman, confirmed the attack but did not provide further details.

France, a former colonial nation, announced in June that it would end its eight-year military operation in Mali. In Mali, the army was instead put into broader international efforts in the region, with the aim of repelling al-Qaeda-related groups.