Death toll rose to 157 in Mali

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The death toll from an attack by unidentified gunmen on Saturday on villagers in central Mali rose to 157, a spokesman for the government said on Tuesday, stressing that this was the worst attack in recent history in a country plagued by ethnic violence.

The attack took place as a UN Security Council mission visited the gold-producing country in search of solutions to violence that killed hundreds of civilians last year and spread across the Sahel region of West Africa.

An official from a nearby town said on Saturday that the militants, dressed in traditional garb of the ethnic Donsu tribes, attacked two villages inhabited by ethnic Fulani, suspected of harboring extremists, a charge Fulani denies.

The attack came less than a week after a militant attack on an army post killed at least 23 soldiers. Both attacks took place in central Mali, government spokesman Amado Kotia said. “The official death toll is 157“He said.