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Eight dead in land dispute on Mali, Burkina border

Written by: Staff
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OUAGADOUGOU, July 4 (Reuters) Clashes over precious farming land on the drought-prone border between Burkina Faso and Mali have killed at least eight people, the Burkinabe government said today.

The fighting between villagers from Ouoronkuy in northwest Burkina Faso and Wanian in Mali took place early on Saturday, killing eight Burkinabe, with two more missing and others injured, the territorial administration ministry said.

''Problems linked to the exploitation of agricultural land were behind these clashes,'' the ministry said in a statement, launching an appeal for calm among communities living along the border between the two West African countries.

Violence triggered by the search for scarce grazing land is not uncommon in the Sahel region, which runs along the southern fringe of the Sahara desert, particularly during the lean season of food shortages under way.

Every year, millions of people in the Sahel endure a precarious few months between the exhaustion of food stocks and the new harvest. The region is in the grip of a three-decade drought, the worst in recorded history.

The World Food Programme, which aims to feed 3.3 million people in Sahelian states including Mali and Burkina Faso, warned in May that the lean season had started earlier than usual despite a good harvest.

Many families are still malnourished and heavily indebted after a food crisis last year, which hit hardest in Niger and followed a locust plague and poor harvest.

REUTERS SRS BD1813

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