Rise in Islamist attacks isolates central Mali village of Dogofry
Locals in Dogofry, central Mali, have been protesting to demand better security after their region suffered repeated attacks by Islamist rebels. Our Observers on the ground say the attacks aim to destroy infrastructure and isolate the village.
The Macina Liberation Front, a group affiliated with Al Qaeda in North Africa, has recently stepped up attacks around Dogofry. Assailants burned a bus on the roadside in late November and, earlier that month, blew up a bridge providing access to the village.
The bridge was located on the only paved road leading into the Dogofry, about five kilometres south of the village, on the national road to Bamako, with access to northern Mali and Mauritania. Videos taken by inhabitants to document the damage showed a road cut in two by a gaping hole.
Without the bridge, Dogofry is isolated: Its inhabitants can no longer travel to the nearby town of Diabaly, its food supplies are threatened and there is no military reinforcement to defend the village in case of an attack. The nearest military base is also in Diabaly.
'Dogofry is in danger of famine'
The FRANCE 24 Observers team spoke to Ahmed (not his real name), a resident of Dogofry, who told us about the severe impact of these attacks on the locals' wellbeing:
If there's no more traffic between Dogofry and Bamako, and between Dogofry and Segou, we can't get sugar, we can't get cooking oil. They've burned 70 percent of our rice crops. Armed men burned more than 30 hectares. We can't go to the fields anymore, so we can't plant crops. The little we had in our fields has been burned. There are attacks every day. Dogofry is in danger of famine. We can't go on like this, we just can't.
This is not the first time jihadists have targeted infrastructure in Mali: The village of Farabougou, some 40 kilometres from Dogofry, was cut off from the rest of the country in October 2020, when two bridges leading to it were blown up. The commune is under siege by the jihadists and is suffering from a food shortage.
The mayor of Dogofry, Zoumana Coulibaly, told the FRANCE 24 Observers team that armed terrorist groups have been operating in the area since October 6. "This year, 4,000 hectares of farmland could not be cultivated because of armed terrorist groups," he said, calling on the authorities to take responsibility and protect the villagers.
Since the end of September, attacks have increased in intensity in the Niono region. In March 2021, The Macina Liberation Front and the traditional Dozo hunters, who are trying to protect the villages, agreed on a temporary ceasefire, but the agreement has been broken since July, and the security situation has deteriorated.
On November 2, the inhabitants of Dogofry came together to repair the bridge, to allow vehicles to travel on the road. The Malian armed forces came to secure the area as they worked.