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At least 20 people were found dead after an attack on a Fulani village in central Mali, where communal violence has surged in recent months, the government said on Friday.

The attack on Wednesday follows a string of deadly clashes between herders and ethnic Dogon farmers who have long fought over land and resources.

But the Fulani have increasingly become targets because of their perceived association with armed Islamist groups in the Sahel.

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Gunmen launched a night attack on the village of Peh near the border with Burkina Faso in the Mopti region, shooting villagers and burning granaries.

 “The attackers, dressed as traditional hunters, came from the neighboring Burkinabe village of Tongo,” said government spokesman Yaya Sangare.

He said the assailants had to retreat and abandon stolen livestock after Malian armed forces intervened.

“A patrol is currently combing the area looking for the attackers,” Sangare said.

Violence between the rival communities has escalated this year. In March, suspected Dogon militiamen killed more than 150 Fulani in central Mali, one of the worst acts of bloodshed in the country’s recent history. Raids on Dogon villages in June killed over 40 people.

SEE ALSO: If the family is under attack, the State is under attack warns Uhuru

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