Within less than 24 hours, Islamic militants killed 27 civilians, some of whom were burned alive, in three attacks on predominately Christian farming villages in central Mali, local officials recently reported.

Communal violence has plagued the West African country in recent years, as Fulani herders, their traditional grazing lands drying up from climate change, have increasingly moved south into the farmland of the Dogmon farmers. Fulani are using force to take over the land while targeting the Christian segment of the Dogon with elimination. Only about 12-15 percent of the Dogon are Christian, the majority being of animist religion, but more and more are turning to Islam because there is no alternative.  

Local officials said that Fulani armed jihadists on motorcycles carried out the attacks in the villages of Bankass, Koro, and Tillé. The Fulani have not only been active in Mali but in Nigeria and Burkina Faso as well. 

“We were surprised by the attack on the village of Tillé,” Doucombo Deputy Mayor Yacouba Kassogué told the news media. Doucombo is a small municipality in which Tillé is located. “Seven were killed, all Dogons, some of them burned alive.”

At least 20 other people were reported to have been killed in the neighboring villages of Bankass and Koro, most of them Christian.  

“Since 2016, jihadists have been waging a war to occupy north and central Mali with the declared aim of establishing Sharia (Islamic law) throughout the country,” the Barnabus Fund, a Christian aid agency that supports prosecuted Christians, said in a statement.

“Mali suffered its worst year of extremist violence in seven years in 2019 [sic]. Jihadi militants carried out murderous attacks in the north and central area, laying waste to Christian villages and causing hundreds to flee with only the clothes on their backs.”

The targets of Fulani attacks are not determined by location but rather by religion.