Burkina Faso’s army said on Wednesday that civilians were killed in an airstrike targeting jihadists as locals reported around 30 people had died.
The army headquarters said in a statement that “targeted actions” were carried out in the east on Monday against “terrorist groups responsible for several atrocities.”
“During these operations, which made it possible to neutralize several dozen terrorists, the strikes, unfortunately, led to collateral casualties among the civilian population,” the report says.
The text says the civilians were close to a jihadist hideout on the Compienga-Pognoa highway when “shells” hit them.
The agency did not provide other details, but expressed “sincere condolences” to the relatives of the victims and said that an investigation had been launched.
According to local residents, about 30 people died, most of them women.
“They were at the opening of the mill when the tragedy happened,” one of them said on condition of anonymity.
The army said in a statement Monday operations were conducted in Jamanga, Jabiga, Mandeni, Bunu, Obiagu and Poñoa Sancoado.
The military usually uses the term “terrorist” for the armed groups behind the ruthless jihadist insurgency.
One of the world’s poorest countries, Burkina Faso, was first attacked in 2015 by militants operating in neighboring Mali.
Since then, thousands have died, about two million have been displaced, and more than a third of the country’s territory is outside government control, according to official figures.
The number of attacks has increased since the beginning of the year, despite a coup by colonels who have made it their priority to restore security.
In recent months, air raids have been increasingly used against jihadists.
The army had previously acknowledged the death of a civilian, which it said occurred on June 11 during a strike against armed traffickers in the south. The military prosecutor’s office launched an investigation