At least five Malian villagers have been killed by suspected jihadists in the center of the country where attacks and ethnic clashes have been on the rise, witnesses and local officials said on Sunday.
The attack followed the kidnapping by gunmen on Tuesday of around 20 people at a weekly market in the same village, Farabougou, near the central Malian town of Niono.
“The village is cut off from the country by terrorists who have blocked all access routes,” said village chief Boukary Coulibaly.
Villagers trying to enter the area were ambushed, leaving five dead and fifteen wounded, he said.
Another local official said six people had been killed. A resident said that six civilians were killed by the jihadists, and others were missing.
While the ambush was going on, another group of gunmen in pick-up trucks and motorcycles rounded up cattle from Farabougou, another villager said.
An official at the security ministry said security forces were taking measures to free the village.
Mali has been struggling to end a jihadist insurgency which emerged in 2012 and has since spread into neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.
Central Mali has become an epicenter of the conflict, with routine jihadist attacks, ethnic strife and tit-for-tat killings among communities.