Burkina Faso’s army acknowledged on Wednesday that it had killed people inadvertently during a counter-terrorist operation in the country’s southeast earlier this week, but would not specify how many.

Residents told Reuters that up to 37 people were murdered in the strike on Monday in the hamlet of Pognoa, some 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the border with Togo, from where some escaped.

The West African nation has been fighting an insurgency led by Islamist terrorist groups, some of whom are affiliated to al Qaeda and the Islamic State, that control huge swaths of territory and carry out regular assaults.

“During operations which made it possible to neutralize several dozen terrorists, the strikes unfortunately caused collateral victims within the civilian population,” the army stated in a statement.

It was not specified how many people were killed. According to the report, the victims were injured by missiles in the area between Kompienga and Pognoa.

According to one Pognoa resident, he attended the burials of 37 persons who died as a result of the strike. According to a lady from the same community, around 30 people were slaughtered, including women and children. Out of fear of penalties, both sources requested anonymity.

According to a medical source, nine persons were injured in the event and were sent to a regional hospital in Dapaong, Togo.

“It was drone strikes, according to the victims and those who accompanied them. Some said two strikes, while others mentioned three “explained the medical source, who also asked to remain anonymous.

Togo, which has been dealing with the spillover of militancy from Burkina Faso, mistakenly murdered seven people in the same border zone last month. 

Burkina Faso ordered the evacuation of populations from two vast areas in its northern and southern provinces in June, ahead of expected operations against Islamist extremists. 

The attacks on civilians on Monday occurred close but outside of one of those zones.

Source: Reuters

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