The Mali government reported that armed men on motorbikes killed more than 40 Tuareg civilians this week in northern Mali, where clashes over land and scarce water are common.

The violence compounds an already terrible security situation in the desert region used by armed groups to launch attacks in Mali and neighboring countries in West and Central Africa. The likes of AQIM, ISGS, and other terrorist groups use Mali’s poor security situation and poor economic regions to recruit and lunch attacks from within Mali.

The identity of the gunmen is unknown, but disputes between the nomadic Tuareg and herder Fulani ethnic groups have killed hundreds — and displaced thousands — over the years. While it’s possible that this is indeed inter-tribe fighting, given the location of the attack — the area is a stronghold for ISGS. They may have had a part to play in this attack, or used one of the tribes to make a land grab.

Menaka town mayor, Nanout Kotia, told Reuters news agency that 43 Tuareg died in a village 20km from the town over the past two days.