More than 20 at Mali wedding ceremony killed in air strike - health worker

  • World
  • Wednesday, 06 Jan 2021

DAKAR (Reuters) - More than 20 people, including children, were killed in air strikes during a wedding ceremony in a remote desert area of central Mali on Sunday, a health worker with knowledge of the attack said on Tuesday.

It was not immediately clear who carried out the attacks but a French army source told Reuters that French forces operating in Mali had carried out an air strike in the area on Sunday that killed "dozens of fighters" from Islamist groups in the area.

The health worker, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said the air strikes had targeted men on motorbikes in the villages of Bounty and Kikara believed to be Islamist militants.

But civilians were caught up in the strike as people gathered for a wedding ceremony, the source said, adding that some of the wounded had to receive amputations at a nearby health centre.

The identity of the targets was confirmed by drone before the attack and on the ground afterwards, the French army source said.

France has more than 5,100 military personnel based in the region to help counter Islamist militants. But a seven-year intervention has come at a cost as forces struggle to contain jihadists in the open desert.

Five French soldiers have been killed in the country in recent days.

(Reporting By Edward McAllister in Dakar and Tangi Salaun in Paris; Editing by Aaron Ross and Gareth Jones)

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