BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Togo’s military patrolling against extremist rebels mistakenly killed several youths in the country’s north, the army said, expressing regret for the civilians killed.

After an explosion killed several people in Margba village in the Tone area last week, a Togolese army patrol was searching for extremist fighters in the region, the army said.

“It was during these operations that an aircraft on night patrol mistakenly targeted a group of people it mistook for a column of jihadis on the move,” the statement from Togo’s army chief of staff said.

According to several sources, seven children were killed and two others wounded in the incident. Local media reported that the army raid targeted a group of children between the ages of 10 and 15 who were returning from a party in a nearby village.

Togo’s northern forests, near the small West African country’s border with Burkina Faso, has become infiltrated by jihadi groups linked to al-Qaida which the army is now trying to stamp out.

In May, eight Togolese soldiers were killed and 13 injured in a jihadi attack in northern Togo.