With less than two weeks to the presidential polls in Mali, the U.N. human rights office says killings of almost 300 Malian civilians in fighting between rival militias this year, could threaten the outcome of the election. Malians head to the polls on July 29 for a vote meant to draw a line under six years of political unrest, jihadist attacks and ethnic clashes. But the situation has degenerated in recent months and spilled over into neighbouring countries. Mali’s government has repeatedly said the polls, in which incumbent President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is seeking re-election, will go ahead as planned, but the relentless violence threatens to significantly depress turnout.
U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said at least 289 civilians have been killed in 99 incidents of communal violence since the start of the year, according to investigations by peacekeeping mission MINUSMA.
More than 75 percent of the incidents occurred in Mali’s central Mopti region, he told a news briefing, with more than half taking place since May 1.
“MINUSMA has documented…an escalation of attacks allegedly carried out by Dozos (traditional hunters) and elements of Dogon militias against villages or parts of villages occupied primarily by members of the Fulani community,” Colville said.