(May 26, 2012)
A land dispute is apparently behind violence that left 30 dead near the Sari village, in north-west Burkina Faso, along the border with Mali, based on a toll released by Burkina’s Territorial administration minister Jérôme Bougouma reported by the local ‘Observateur Paalga’ newspaper.
According to the same source, tension escalated Monday between people from the Peul ethnic group, traditionally herders, and Dogon farmers originally from Mali. Dozens were injured in the fighting, several homes were torched and property looted. After the clashes, between 800 and a thousand Peul took refuge in Banh, 30km from Sari, claiming that their homes were attacked by the Dogon. The Peul had protested that the Malian farmers had sowed grazing land for their livestock.
Banh administration sources explained that the two ethnic groups have coexisted in the border zone for at least four decades and tensions are cyclical. According to some observers, tension also escalated due to the conflict underway in Northern Mali, which pushed hundreds of people to seek refuge in Burkina Faso territory. In addition to the social-economic pressure of the arrival of Malians, also a drop in farm production and rise in food prices have contributed.
Burkina Faso’s minister Bougouma stressed that “the absence of a representative on the Malian side to mediate between the two communities is delaying a solution”. Since the end of March the northern regions of Mali, cut off from the South and in conflict with Bamako, are controlled by Tuareg rebels and Islamic groups.