Unknown gunmen on motorbikes killed 27 civilians in Mali’s central region of Mopti, when they attacked ethnic Dogon farming villages close to the border with Burkina Faso.

Eyewitnesses said the gunmen came from a neighbouring Fulani town.

Tit-for-tat attacks between the two communities have intensified over the last year fuelled by the perception that terrorist’s groups have sheltered in and have recruited from Fulani villages.

After briefly seizing the north of the country in 2012, the groups have become increasingly active in central Mali, which has fuelled inter-communal violence.

In another development, Algeria has conditionally released a key protest movement leader, Karim Tabbou, and three other activists ahead of the country’s Independence Day. He was released alongside activists Amira Bouraoui and Samir Benlarbi.

Tabbou is one of the most prominent figures of the “Hirak” movement that forced the downfall last April of longtime President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. He was jailed for an “attack on the integrity of national territory” and was serving a one-year jail term.