DAKAR, Senegal — They had gathered for a wedding in a village in central Mali.
The ceremony took place the day before, but about 100 men and teenagers were still celebrating the next afternoon. They prayed together, then dispersed into different groups under some trees.
An hour later, 22 members of the wedding party were dead, killed by French warplanes. Nineteen of them were civilians, according to a report released Tuesday by the United Nations.
The Jan. 3 airstrike set off outrage in the West African country, and has intensified calls for France, which has more than 5,000 troops stationed in the region, to leave.
Soon after the airstrike on the village of Bounti reports began to emerge that a wedding had been hit. France immediately dismissed any suggestion that its planes had attacked a wedding party, or that there had been any collateral damage.
has dragged on for years with no end in sight. Just last week, French troops were accused of killing more civilians, this time in northern Mali. France said they were terrorists; a local mayor said they were teenagers hunting birds.