The attackers stormed the village at about 7a.m. on Sunday when most of the villagers were in church and killed mostly women and children.
The attack in Benue state comes as a bomb exploded Wednesday in northeast Nigeria, apparently killing a police officer and sparking reprisal attacks by the military in the region, residents said.
In Benue state, the attack Sunday targeted a rural village of Christian Tiv people called Yogbo in the state, police spokesman Daniel Ezeala said. After the attack, those living there fled, community leader Daniel Tsenghul said.
The Tiv are one the largest of the minority ethnic groups in Nigeria, a nation of more than 160 million people and more than 250 different ethnicities.
The Tiv and the Hausa-Fulani herdsmen have previously fought in Benue. In December, authorities said fighting between the two groups displaced some 5,000 people.