An attack by members of an ethnic militia on three villages in central Mali claimed 115 lives, the latest clash in an increasingly violent conflict that is fueled by Islamist extremism.

Another 46 were injured in the attack on ethnic Fulani villages on Saturday morning near Bankass in the Mopti region, Boubacar Diallo, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry, said by phone. It came a week after militants linked to al-Qaida killed 23 Malian soldiers in an assault on an army base in the village of Dioura, also in the Mopti region.

"It's a massacre, they attacked the village killing over 100 people and injuring dozens," said Bara Sankare, a Fulani leader in Mopti. The village of Ogossagou, the main focus of the attack, was burned down and its chief killed, said Bankass Mayor Moulaye Guindo.