The Prime Minister of Mali, inspecting a site that witnessed a massacre by a Malian ethnic militia this week, said there were at least 24 children among the nearly 100 people killed during the massacre, many of whom were shot in the back, Reuters has reported.
Attackers believed to be from the Fulani ethnic group raided the rival Dogon village of Sobane Da in central Mali between Sunday 9th June and Monday 10th.
The attackers killed at least 95 people and burned entire houses in an escalation of the tit-for-tat ethnic slaughter that has swept through Mali this year.
"All these victims of horror and barbarity remind us of our responsibility as leaders to reinforce and accelerate security," said Boubou Cisse, who became Prime Minister in April after his predecessor stepped down following an earlier massacre by Dogon gunmen on a Fulani village in March.
"May the soul of these innocent victims of discord and hatred rest in peace," said Cisse.
Hundreds of people have been killed since January in violence between Dogon fishermen and ethnic Fulani tribesmen, including an attack in March in which gunmen killed more than 150 Fulani people in one of the most violent episodes in Mali's modern history, forcing the prime minister and the government of the time to resign.
A statement from the office of President Ibrahim Abu Bakr Keita said he would shorten a visit to Switzerland to share his grief. He is expected to visit the site on Wednesday.
Frustration among Mali's people is mounting due to the government's failure to protect them from Islamist militant attacks and ethnic retaliation.
According to figures from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), intercommunal violence has overtaken militant Islamist attacks as a major cause of violence in Mali for the first time this year.
Malian authorities have launched a criminal investigation into the latest atrocity and local officials say 35 bodies have so far been identified at the massacre site.