June 18 (UPI) -- Unknown gunmen opened fire on two Mali villages Monday, killing at least 38 people, 10 days after 35 people in the region were massacred in a similar attack, the government said Tuesday.
Gunmen attacked the villages of Gangafani and Yoro in Mali's Mopti region near the border with Burkina Faso. In response, the government said it deployed a military unit to the area to investigate, CNN reported.
Sectarian violence has become increasingly common in the Mopti region over the past few months, resulting in hundreds of civilians killed.
On Jan. 1, 39 people were killed in an attack against Koulougon village and at least 157 people were killed March 23 when Ogossagou village was besieged by gunmen.
Last week, Sobanou-Kou village was attacked, killing 35 people, the majority being women and children.
The United Nations has urged the Malian government to immediately undertake an investigation into the violence, bring the perpetrators to justice and to de-escalate tensions that would end the "cycle of inter-communal and ethnic violence and retaliatory attacks."
"It is urgent to prevent further violence and brutality and to protect the civilian population from such grave violations, especially women and children who are among the most vulnerable in times of conflict," the U.N. Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide said in a June 12 statement. "Accountability is instrumental in the pursuit of peace and stability and the Malian authorities, with the support of the international community, must step up to address the growing insecurity in central Mali."
The U.N. officials said they cannot "stand by silently" in the face of this ethnic violence urging interested parties and the international communities to intervene.