The Burkinabe army acknowledged on Wednesday the death of civilians during air strikes against “terrorist groups” in eastern Burkina Faso, without specifying the number, with local residents speaking of “around 30” killed.
“Targeting actions against terrorist groups responsible for several abuses were carried out in several localities (Djamanga, Djabiga, Mandéni, Bounou, Obiagou, Pognoa-Sankoado) in the East region on Monday,” the army’s headquarters said in a statement.
“During these operations, which enabled the neutralization of several dozen terrorists, the strikes unfortunately caused collateral victims among the civilian population,” it added.
The General Staff stated that an investigation “was immediately opened to determine responsibility” and offered its “sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims”. It assures its “commitment to collaborate fully with the competent services and the population to shed light on this unfortunate incident”.
For several months, the Burkinabe army has been conducting multiple air operations against armed jihadist groups. It admitted accidentally killing a civilian on 11 June during an “air action” against a group of armed traffickers in the Centre-South region. An investigation had been opened by the military prosecutor.
Burkina Faso, where the military took power in January promising to make the fight against jihadism their priority, is facing, like several neighboring countries, the violence of armed jihadist movements affiliated to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group, which have killed thousands of people and displaced some two million since 2015.