An army drone strike accidentally hit a village in northwestern Nigeria, killing dozens of civilians celebrating a Muslim festival, local authorities, the military and residents said Monday.
Nigeria’s armed forces often rely on air strikes in the fight against so-called bandit militias in the northwest and northeast of the country, where jihadists have been waging a conflict for 14 years.
The army did not provide details or the death toll for the attack late Sunday in Tudun Biri village in Kaduna state. But residents said dozens were killed and injured.
Local officials also reported fatalities.
“Muslim worshipers observing Maulud were accidentally killed and many others injured in a military drone strike targeting terrorists and bandits,” Kaduna state governor Uba Sani said, ordering an investigation.
“We have buried 85 people who were killed in the bombing,” said resident Idris Dahiru, whose relatives were among the dead.
He said more than 60 injured people were being treated in hospital.
“I was in the house when the first bomb was dropped… We rushed to the scene to help those affected and then a second bomb was dropped,” he added.
“My aunt, my brother’s wife, and her six children, wives of my four brothers, were among the dead. My older brother’s family are all dead except for his little child who survived.”
– Dozens of wounded –
Dozens of wounded people were taken to a teaching hospital in the state capital Kaduna, local state security commissioner Samuel Aruwan said after a meeting with army officials and community leaders.
He said the attack “killed several citizens and injured others” but resulted in no casualties.
According to the army, it was a routine operation against militants that “unintentionally affected members of the community,” he said.
Resident Husseini Ibrahim told AFP late Monday: “I lost 13 of my immediate family among the 85 members killed.”
“This included my children and those of my brothers, seven boys and six girls. We buried the victims today.”
Many of the victims were women and children, local resident Hassan Ma’aruf told AFP by telephone, sharing images he said showed the bodies.
AFP could not immediately confirm the authenticity of the images.
“We have identified 30 dead victims so far,” he said earlier on Monday.
Militia gangs, known locally as bandits, have long terrorized parts of northwest Nigeria. They operate from bases deep in the forests and raid villages to pillage and kidnap residents for ransom.
In the northeast, jihadists have been pushed back from areas they occupied at the height of the conflict, although they continue to fight.
Since 2009, more than 40,000 people have been killed and two million displaced.
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has made tackling insecurity a priority since taking office in May as he seeks to encourage foreign investment in Africa’s most populous country.
Bombing attacks by the Nigerian military have caused civilian casualties in the past.
At least 20 fishermen were killed and several injured in a September 2021 attack in Kwatar Daban Masara on Lake Chad in the northeast when the military mistook them for militants.
In January 2017, at least 112 people were killed when a warplane hit a camp housing 40,000 people displaced by jihadist violence in the town of Rann, near the border with Cameroon.
In a report released six months later, the Nigerian military blamed “the lack of adequate marking of the area.”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
Source : www.ndtv.com