Written by Lauren Corbett, CNN
A group of militants has reportedly massacred at least 31 people in a central town in Mali , officials said.
An unnamed high-ranking Malian security official told CNN that “more than 50 people were executed” overnight in Niono, which is around 50 kilometers (31 miles) southeast of Gao.
The victims were driving through the town “to find some food for their families when the militants approached and opened fire,” according to an official at the Niono crisis committee.
The U.N. has confirmed the mass killing, the latest in a string of bloody attacks around Mali.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.
Mali is experiencing a situation of “armed violence and insecurity largely concentrated in the northeastern parts of the country,” according to the Security Council’s latest report on the country, which was released late Tuesday.
The council strongly urged all parties to “exercise utmost restraint in the conduct of hostilities in respect of civilians and civilian infrastructure,” especially in areas outside of the control of the Malian government.
A 2013 French-led military intervention drove back the jihadists, many of whom were affiliated with Al Qaeda, from most of the country’s northern towns, though attacks continue.
French troops have since pulled out, leaving a multinational force including Mali’s neighbors.
According to the U.N. report, 24,760 civilians have been killed or injured in Mali since 2014, when the conflict began. There were 25,000 out-of-control conflicts and 7,757 civilians were forcibly displaced.
Notably, the majority of the violence was attributed to armed extremist groups, the report said.
In May, the Malian government claimed it had driven the jihadist group known as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) out of the country after months of fighting.
AQIM, however, denied the claim.