The Malian army said Thursday it had "neutralised several terrorists" during a vast sweep near two villages where 41 people were masscred this week in ethnic violence.
One Malian soldier died in the operation which is "currently under way in the forests of Yoro, Gangafani, Bodel and Homobongo," an army statement said.
"Terrorist bases have been destroyed. Searches are being carried out during this operation, which led to several terrorists being neutralised," one Malian soldier died.
The Malian army uses the term neutralised to indicate casualties -- both fatal as well as serious injuries.
The ethnic Dogo villages of Gangafani and Yoro were attacked on Monday -- the latest in a cycle of tit-for-tat violence between the Dogon and Fulani communities in the tense ethnic patchwork at the centre of Mali.
Forty-one people died according to the UN but the Malian government gives a provisional death toll of 38.
The UN said more than 750 people had fled the villages where survivors and officials say Fulani gunmen arrived by motorbike before massacring people in "revenge" over suspicions that they had collaborated with the Malian army.
Ethnic tensions in central Mali surged after a jihadist group led by preacher Amadou Koufa emerged in 2015 and recruited mainly from among the Fulani. Clashes increased with the Dogon and Bambara who formed their own self-defence militias.
The Fulani are primarily cattle breeders and traders, while the Bambara and Dogon ethic groups are traditionally sedentary farmers.