Suspected jihadists in Mali killed at least 30 civilians in an attack on a passenger vehicle in the volatile central town of Mopti, local officials said Saturday.

“The passengers were sprayed with bullets and the vehicle was torched,” during an attack by “terrorists” near the town of Bandiagara on Friday, the officials told AFP.

“The state has sent security forces to the scene,” they said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

An elected official in Bandiagara confirmed the death toll, saying the victims included women and children.

The attack has not been claimed by any of the numerous armed groups active in the West African country.

Mali’s transitional government said in a statement broadcast on state TV that 31 people were killed and 17 injured and vowed to do everything necessary to “arrest and punish” the perpetrators.

Mali has been struggling to contain an Islamist insurgency that first erupted in the north in 2012 and has since claimed thousands of military and civilian lives.

Despite the presence of thousands of French and UN troops, the conflict has engulfed central Mali and spread to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Central Mali has become one of the most violent hotspots of the Sahel-wide conflict, where ethnic killings and attacks on government forces are frequent.

A military junta overthrew the government last year after mass protests against the violence, but the new rules have not managed to stem the bloodshed.

Source: Africanews

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