At least 21 people have been reported dead or missing after an attack on a village in central Mali that was the scene last year of the country's worst civil massacre in recent years.
The Mali government said gunmen burned houses and ransacked cattle in the village of Ogossagou, a village of Fulani shepherds in the central region of Mopti, during Friday morning's attack.
The government statement did not say who carried out the attack.
Hamadou Dicko, of the Fulani Tabital Pulaaku association, put the death toll at a minimum of 22.
"They came and shot everything that moved," he said.
In the attack on Ogossagou last March, alleged fighters of a rival group killed more than 150 civilians, part of the spiral of ethnic violence in the vast Sahel region of West Africa. Malian officials have said they suspect that Dan Na Ambassagou, a Dogon ethnic group, is carrying out the massacre last year in Ogossagou. The group denies responsibility.
Moulaye Guindo, mayor of the nearby city of Bankass, and another local official, who declined to be identified, told the Reuters news agency that Ogossagou was attacked on Friday less than 24 hours after Malian troops had been stationed near Ogossagou they left their base.
An army spokesman said soldiers had been deployed to respond to the attack, but declined to comment if they had previously left the local base.
The United Nations mission in Mali said it sent a rapid reaction force to the village, where several were also injured. He also provided air support to prevent further attacks and evacuate the injured, he said.
Mahamat Saleh Annadif, head of the UN mission in Mali, He said he was surprised and outraged by the attack.
"There is an urgent need to break the spiral of violence in this region," he said.
The residents of central Mali have criticized the army for not protecting them against the violence that has displaced 200,000 people and left many communities without local government or defense.
More than 450 civilians were killed in central Mali last year by armed groups, which makes it the deadliest year in the region since the country's crisis began in 2012, according to Human Rights Watch.
Ethnic clashes have been ongoing and exploited by allied armed groups of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) who have been recruiting men from the Peuhl or Fulani ethnic group for their cause.
Dogon armed groups have also emerged and are accused of supporting Mali's military repression against armed groups.
The conflict has claimed thousands of lives and has extended to neighboring Niger and Burkina Faso.
Al Jazeera and news agencies