Mali's “Dozo” or traditional hunters are being blamed for the deaths of 32 herders in the central region of the African nation, local officials told AFP Sunday.
"They surrounded the village, separated the Fula people from the others and killed at least 32 civilians in cold blood" on Saturday, Abel Aziz Diallo, president of the local Tabila Pullaku association, said.
Diallo said children are among the dozens who died, adding that another 10 people remain unaccounted for.
"The men were dressed in Dozo clothing but we wonder if they were all Dozo hunters," said an elected official said on condition of anonymity.
A new attack was also reported to have claimed the lives of 4 others but Mali's ministry of defence has not confirmed the incident.
Over the past three years, relations between the nomadic Fulani herders and Mali's Bambara and Dogon farmers have been antagonistic following accusations of Fulani grazing cattle on Dogon land as well as land and water access issues.
Canada, which is deploying some 250 peacekeepers to Mali, said it was also "deeply concerned" by allegations that the military regularly carries out unlawful acts and called for the "perpetrators of these heinous crimes to be brought to justice."
The Fulani herdsmen, who clashed with Tuaregs in late April, have accused the Malian military of supporting such violent incidents perpetrated by traditional farmers.
On Thursday, the United States asked Mali to investigate 25 bodies found in mass graves in the Mopti region. The Malian government, according to a BBC report, admitted elements of the army were involved.
Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, on Friday, urged for "the respect of human rights by all the military, which has an obligation to protect the population."