Burkina army admits civilians killed in air raid

Burkina Faso’s army said on Wednesday that civilians were accidentally killed during a military operation in the country’s southeast earlier this week.

In a statement, army headquarters said “targeted actions” were carried out in the east on Monday against “terrorist groups responsible for several atrocities”.

“During these operations, which enabled several dozen terrorists to be neutralised, the strikes unfortunately caused collateral victims among the civilian population,” it said.

The civilians were close to a militant hideout on the Kompienga-Pognoa highway when they were hit by “projectiles”, the text said.

It gave no other details, but expressed “sincere condolences” to relatives of the dead and said an inquiry had been launched.

Local residents said around 30 people had died, most of whom were women.

“They had gathered for the inauguration of a mill when the tragedy happened,” said one, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Monday’s operations were undertaken at Djamanga, Djabiga, Mandeni, Bounou, Obiagou and Pognoa-Sankoado, the army statement said.

Air raids have been increasingly used against the miltants in recent months.

The army has previously acknowledged the death of a civilian which it said occurred on June 11 during a strike on armed traffickers in the south. Military prosecutors have opened an inquiry.