Islamic radicals ambushed three predominantly Christian villages in Mali in a series of attacks on May 26-27. According to local officials, the jihadi group killed 27 people.
Armed men on motorcycles went on a killing spree in Central Mali, attacking three Dogon farming villages in less than 24 hours. Jihadists who claim they were defending Fulani herdsmen were reportedly behind the attacks, local officials believe.
The Islamic group attacked the villages of Bankass, Koro, and Tillé in West Africa. The attackers shot a majority of those killed, although they burned some of them alive. The ambush took the villages completely by surprise.
“We were surprised by the attack on the village of Tillé,” Doucombo Deputy Mayor Yacouba Kassogué said. “Seven were killed, all Dogons, some of them burned alive.”
The Islamic radicals killed an additional 20 people in the neighboring villages of Bankass and Koro.
Barnabus Aid, and interdenominational Christian aid agency, reported that the attacks specifically targeted “mainly-Christian Dogon villages.” The recent attacks come on the heels of Mali’s worst year of violence in seven years in 2019.
“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 aid agency reported.
“Mali suffered its worst year of extremist violence in seven years in 2019. Jihadi militants carried out murderous attacks in the north and central area. [It laid] waste to Christian villages and causing hundreds to flee with only the clothes on their backs.”
In June 2019, Fulani herdsmen killed 35 people, including 24 children, in the mainly-Christian village of Sobame Da.
The predominantly Muslim country of Mali ranks 29th in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to the Open Doors watchdog group. Although the Dogon community is generally animistic, many have turned to Islam “for lack of an alternative.”
Missionaries, however, have been able to infiltrate the smaller villages with the Gospel. In fact, about 11% believe in Jesus.
“In the few villages where Christianity has been lived out by missionaries, or locals who have become Christians elsewhere, one can indeed see the growth of the Christian faith,” the Joshua Project said.
“With the increasing attacks in the Mopti region and other areas, church schools and churches have been burned down. They’ve forced the closing of hundreds of schools (including Christian schools) in 2019,” Open Doors reported.