At least 95 people and several domesticated animals were killed when unknown gunmen attacked a village in central Mali and set fire to homes and barns late on Sunday night, local reports say citing government officials.
Some 19 villagers are missing after the attack. The death toll may rise as many suffered severe burn injuries.
The victims belonged to the Dogon ethnic community of Sobane-Kouvillagein Sangha district and the attackers are suspected to be Fulani from the neighbouring Bankass district.
Dogon are farmers who have been living in central Mali for centuries while Fulani are semi-nomadic herders, above, who keep moving across Western Africa.
A survivor told AFP that dozens of men came in vehicles and killed residents in cold blood.
The unidentified attackers fled in the cover of darkness after the carnage, a government spokesman said, adding that they will be brought to justice.
President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita condemned the ethnic killing and called it unjust and cowardly.
Addressing Malinese people living in Switzerland, Keita said the nation is once more praying for the victims of gun violence in the Dogon country.
Clashes between Dogon and Fulani had intensified since early this year leaving hundreds dead.
In one of the worst attacks in the country’s recent memory,
150 Fulani were killed by gunmen in March.
Condemning Sunday’s bloodshed, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed to communities to defuse the situation.
The UN special representative for Mali Mahamat Saleh Annadif called Sunday’s incident a barbaric act.
Annadif, who also heads the United Nations’ MINUSMA peacekeeping mission in Mali, said humanitarian aid and security forces have been rushed to Sobane-Kouvillage.
Mali has been in turmoil since 2012 when insurgent groups started a campaign in the northern region for an independent homeland for Tuareg people, the large Berber ethnic group which has a strong presence in North Africa and in some northern parts of Western Africa.
Although French and African forces pushed back the insurgents, jihadis continue to stir up trouble in the West African country.