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Nigerian Military Drone Kills 88 Civilians in Kaduna

Nigerian Military Drone Kills 88 Civilians in Kaduna

A strike by a Nigerian military drone has resulted in the death of 88 civilians observing a Muslim festival in a village in the north-western region on Sunday, the country’s armed forces have admitted.

The villagers had gathered for the Maulud celebration when at about 9pm they heard what sounded like an aeroplane followed by a huge explosion.

The strike which occurred in the remote village of Tudun Biri in Kaduna state was initially ruled as a miscalculated accident after military intelligence purportedly mistook the victims for terrorists. However, the military has retracted that narrative and now defends the attack saying terrorists were among the worshippers killed by the drone strike.

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A statement released by the Director of Defence Media Operations, Major General Edward Buba, said the attack was executed following the observation of group movements through aerial surveillance that were indicative of prior terrorist tactics and methods.

According to Buba, the threat was removed to stop the terrorists from terrorizing defenseless bystanders.

“On 3 Dec 2023, at about 2200hrs and based on untoward activities by terrorists. The NA UAV detachment observed movement of terrorists at Ligarma, a terrorist-infested area of Kaduna State. Aerial surveillance captured movement of groups of persons synonymous with the terrorist tactics and modus operandi.

“The observed advance of the terrorists that were gathered posted a threat to key infrastructure within reach of the untoward activities. Accordingly, the threat was eliminated to prevent the terrorist from unleashing terror on innocent civilians.

“It should be noted that terrorists often deliberately embed themselves within civilian population centres in order for civilian population to bear the consequences of their atrocities. Nevertheless, the Nigerian military does its best at all times to distinguish between civilians and terrorists,” Buba said.

While the DHQ acknowledges that the military views every civilian death in the cause of operations as a tragedy, it claims that instructions for communities to always alert troops of their activities particularly when such a community is known to be infested with terrorists and their sympathisers were not carried out.

The statement read, “One such measure taken by the military is to continually give precise instructions to communities. For instance, communities are to always alert troops of their activities particularly when such a community is known to be infested with terrorists and their sympathizers. These instructions are intended at enabling the military distinguish between friendly and untoward activities.”

Amnesty International’s Nigeria office said 120 people were killed in the attack, citing reports of its workers and volunteers in the area.

“Many of them were children [and] more dead bodies are being discovered,” Isa Sanusi, the group’s director in Nigeria, told The Associated Press.

At least 50 bodies were recovered, according to Igabi resident Mustapha Rufai. “They said they mistakenly threw a bomb on them,” he said.

“We couldn’t even run,” Danjuma Salisu, a survivor, told The Guard from his hospital bed, where he was being treated for hand and leg injuries.

The Nigerian army had been on a “a routine mission against terrorists but inadvertently affected members of the community”. It did not give casualty figures or explain how the accident had happened but local residents said 88 people, many of them women and children, had been killed.

A similar incident occurred between February 2014 when a Nigerian military aircraft dropped a bomb on Daglun in Borno state killing 20 civilians and September 2022, there were at least 14 documented incidences of such bombings in residential areas.

This Article is Fact-Checked. See Policy.
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