Malian troops stand guard prior to the visit of the French Prime Minister at the Operation Barkane military French base in Gao, Mali, on February 24, 2019.
CNN  — 

Dozens of people were killed and many others were injured when armed men attacked two villages in central Mali, the government said Tuesday.

In what the authorities are calling a “terrorist” incident, gunmen attacked the villages of Gangafani and Yoro in the Mopti region of Mali near the border with Burkina Faso, killing at least 38 people, according to an early government estimate.

The government responded to the Monday attack by sending a military unit to the area to investigate the incident and track down the perpetrators.

In a separate attack, a military patrol was ambushed by armed men in Banguimalam, according to the government statement.

The Mopti region in central Mali has been beset by sectarian violence in recent months. At least 95 people in June and 134 people in March were killed in similar clashes between the Dogon and Fulani ethnic groups. It is unclear what motivated Monday’s attacks.