At least 17 people have been killed in clashes in Mali’s central Mopti region, local media said Friday, APA reports quoting Anadolu Agency.
According to one report, 17 Fulani men were killed when fighting broke out between Dozos, or traditional hunters, and members of the Fulani ethnic group in the village of Somena.
Tensions are rising ahead of Sunday’s hotly disputed presidential election when voters will choose between 24 contenders, including incumbent President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who took office in 2013, and opposition frontrunner Soumaila Cisse.
Earlier this week, Cisse’s campaign team was attacked by gunmen in the northern city of Timbuktu.
According to local reports, cars, phones and personal belongings of Cisse's team were damaged or stolen.
A number of civilians were killed in ethnic violence in central Mali, government and local sources said on Friday, in one of a long series of attacks before a hotly-disputed presidential election this weekend, APA reports quoting Reuters.
One local source put the death toll at 18 while another said the attackers had dumped bodies down a well.
Malians will vote on Sunday in the election contested by President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and a couple of dozen challengers. But inter-communal violence and jihadist attacks have cast doubt on prospects for a smooth election day.
Clashes erupted on Wednesday between traditional Donzo hunters and Fulani herders near the town of Djenne, killing several civilians, a source at the defense ministry said.
The government did not provide further details of the violence near Djenne, which lies about 400 km (250 miles) northeast of the capital Bamako.