A United Nations investigation team is being sent to Mali to investigate a massacre of civilians, which left over 150 people dead, the UN Human Rights Office has announced.

The mass killing of civilians in the central Mopti region of the country on Saturday has been described by the UN as "unspeakable".

The Secretary General of the UN said he was "shocked and outraged" by reports that 153 civilians were killed. Women and children were among those killed in the attack, which also left over 70 people injured.

The UN team will comprise ten human rights officers, a child protection officer and two crime scene investigators from the United Nations Police (UNPOL) of the UN Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

Automatic rifles, hunting rifles and other weapons were used according to survivors.

The UN estimates that 600 people have been killed in inter-ethnic violence in the central Mopti region of Mali in the last year. It estimates 219 people were killed in this year alone.

The attack on the village of Ogossou-Peulh was reportedly carried out by armed men dressed as traditional Dozo hunters.

The dead and injured were from the Fulani ethnic group, also known as Peuhl. Dozo hunters are drawn from the Dogon and Bambara people.

Fulani civilians have been killed by Dozo hunters and other militias fighting the Islamist group Jama’at nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM).

JNIM, which is affiliated to Al Queda, has recruited members from the Fulani community. Land and water disputes are also behind the attacks.

Violence has spread to the centre of Mali from the north, where there was an Islamist insurgency in 2012.

The UN said in its statement today that crimes against the Fulani people have gone unpunished in the past.

It has urged the Malian government to take urgent measures to prevent further violence.

The Malian government has admitted that civilians have been killed by the army during counter insurgency operations.

The mandate of the MINUSMA peacekeeping mission has been extended until June.

Irish troops are currently stationed in Mali in a European Union Training Mission, which is providing instruction to the Malian army.

The Government is also considering the deployment of Ireland’s special forces, the Army Ranger Wing, to the MINUSMA mission.

France has also deployed over 3,000 troops to Mali to fight Islamist insurgents.