The French army said in a statement on Thursday that four civilians were killed in an exchange of fire after French forces backed by an attack helicopter killed 10 Islamist militants in Burkina Faso.
France deploys thousands of soldiers in the Sahel region as part of a mission to combat the violence of Islamist militant groups linked to al-Qaeda and Daesh.
But it is considering withdrawing its forces from Mali, as relations between Paris and the junta in Bamako deteriorate.
The killing of four civilians in Burkina comes at a bad time, with anti-French sentiments particularly strong in Mali and starting to spread in Burkina after a coup in January.
“Unfortunately, despite all the measures taken by the (French) Barkhane force and the unit involved on the ground, four civilians who were present in the terrorist camp lost their lives during the exchange of fire,” the French military said in a statement. .
It added that ten Ansar al-Islam militants were killed after violent clashes on the night of February 7 and 8 near the town of Ohigoya, near the border with Mali.
The French military said the group was behind attacks that killed 53 policemen in Burkina Faso in November and a recent attack that killed two Burkinabe soldiers.