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At least 85 civilians killed in Nigerian army's botched drone strike

At least 85 civilians killed in Nigerian army’s botched drone strike

Tooba Shakir 5 months ago 0

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Drones mistakenly struck the village of Tudun Biri as residents celebrating a Muslim festival

Nigerias Tinubu expresses grief, ‘indignation’ after army drone accident kills 85 civilians. — AFP/File
Nigeria’s Tinubu expresses grief, ‘indignation’ after army drone accident kills 85 civilians. — AFP/File
  • Nigerian President terms the incident disturbing. 
  • Many of the victims were women, children and elderly.
  • Army acknowledges one of its drones mistakenly struck the village. 

At least 85 civilians killed in a Nigerian army botched drone strike targeting armed groups in the country northwest Kaduna State.

Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on Tuesday termed the incident disturbing and ordered an investigation after the army acknowledged one of its drones mistakenly struck the village of Tudun Biri on Sunday as residents celebrated a Muslim festival.

The army did not give any casualty figures, but emergency officials and residents had said 85 people, many of them women and children, were killed.

“The Northwest Zonal Office has received details from the local authorities that 85 dead bodies have so far been buried while the search is still ongoing,” National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said in a statement.

NEMA said another 66 people were being treated at hospital.

Many of the victims were women, children and elderly who had been celebrating a religious festival. 

Nigeria´s armed forces often rely on air strikes in their battle against bandit militias in the northwest and northeast of the country, where militants have been fighting for more than a decade.

“President Tinubu describes the incident as very unfortunate, disturbing and painful, expressing indignation and grief over the tragic loss of Nigerian lives,” the presidency said in a statement.

The army had said its drone was a routine mission that “inadvertently affected” members of the community. But it also said the armed groups often mixed with civilian populations in the area.

Later, Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Taoreed Lagbaja visited local community leaders to apologise for the accidental strike and seek an enquiry to prevent similar mistakes.

“Troops were carrying out aerial patrols when they observed a group of people and wrongly analysed and misinterpreted their pattern of activities to be similar to that of the bandits, before the drone strike,” the military said.

After coming to office in May, Tinubu said tackling insecurity was one of his key concerns as he looks to bring more foreign investment to Africa´s most populous nation.

Militia gangs, known locally as bandits, have long terrorised parts of northwest Nigeria, operating from bases deep in forests and raiding villages to loot and kidnap residents for ransom.

In the northeast, jihadists have been pushed back from the territory they held at the height of the conflict, though they continue to fight on in rural areas.

More than 40,000 people have been killed and two million displaced since 2009 in that conflict.

Nigerian military bombing raids have accidentally hit civilians in the past.

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