At least 31 people have been killed in central Mali after militants attacked a bus carrying civilians to a market, local officials have said
Unidentified gunmen opened fire and killed the driver, before setting the bus on fire, according to authorities.
Most of the victims were women who were on their way to work at the market, local sources told EFE news agency.
The deadly attack is the latest in Mali’s rapidly escalating jihadist insurgency.
Armed men “shot at the vehicle, slashed the tires, and shot at the people”, Moulaye Guindo, the mayor of the nearby town of Bankass, told Reuters news agency.
He said more people were either missing or wounded.
Graphic images on social media following the attack show the smouldering frame of the bus still filled with bodies, however the BBC has not been able to independently verify the pictures.
The bus was targeted as it made its twice-weekly journey from the village of Songo to a market in Bandiagara, 10km (6.2 miles) away.
The attack took place at the heart of the West African nation’s Mopti region, which has seen escalating violence in recent months fuelled by fighters linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.
Mali’s transitional government, formed after a coup removed the previous administration in May, is yet to comment on the attack.
The latest assault comes just a day after insurgents attacked a UN convoy in the north of the country, killing one civilian worker and wounding another.
Jihadist attacks have surged in Mali after two military coups in 16 months contributed to a weak central government and saw France halt joint military operations between the military and the 5,100 troops it had in the country.
The dire security situation has reportedly seen Mali’s central government turn to the Russian mercenary collective, the Wagner group, for aid.
SOURCE: Nii Otu Dadeban Ankrah