Togo’s armed forces said Thursday they were responsible for a recent explosion that killed seven civilians and wounded two others, after mistaking them for jihadists.
The blast occurred in the prefecture of Tône, near the border with Burkina Faso, where a Sahelian jihadist insurgency threatens to spread to coastal West Africa.
Togolese troops are deployed in the area to try to contain a spillover of the jihadist threat.
In a statement Sunday, the army said it had opened an investigation « to determine the circumstances of this explosion and identify the perpetrators. »
The chief of staff of the Togolese armed forces, General Dadja Maganawe, concluded on Thursday that a plane had wrongly targeted civilians.
« On the night of July 9 to 10, at around 1:30 a.m., an explosion caused several victims in the village of Margba, in the Tône prefecture, » he said in a statement.
General Maganawe said the army had received « consistent intelligence reports of threats of infiltration by armed gangs intent on carrying out terrorist attacks » against local communities.
« Faced with the imminent danger, » he said, the commander leading an operation codenamed Koundjoare « stepped up surveillance and ground and air control of the area indicated.
« It was during these operations that an aircraft on night patrol mistakenly targeted a group of people it mistook for a column of moving jihadists, » Maganawe said.
The Togolese armed forces expressed « their deep regret at this tragedy », and renewed « their sincere condolences to the grieving families » and wished a speedy recovery to the injured.
General Maganawe added that the armed forces « will do everything in their power to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening in the future.
Last month, Togo declared a state of emergency in its northern prefectures because of the threat of Islamist attacks. Eight Togolese soldiers were killed in May in an attack in the region.