At least 85 civilians lost their lives in an air strike during a Muslim religious celebration in Kaduna state, northwest Nigeria. The incident occurred on Sunday, leaving over 60 people hospitalized for injuries sustained during the bombing.
President Bola Tinubu acknowledged the tragedy, referring to it as a “bombing mishap,” though the exact death toll remains undisclosed.
State Governor Uba Sani clarified that the victims were “mistakenly killed” by a military drone that was purportedly targeting terrorists and bandits.
The airstrike transpired during a religious festival in the village of Tundun Biri, where villagers had gathered for the celebration.
The defence ministry deemed the operation a “needless tragedy,” stating that a routine mission against militants inadvertently affected members of the community.
Lt Gen Taoreed Lagbaja, the head of the army, expressed deep regret over the incident, characterizing it as a “very disheartening occurrence.”
He clarified that troops conducting aerial patrols had mistakenly identified the gathering as a threat, leading to the tragic drone strike.
One eyewitness recounted the horrifying sequence of events, revealing that there were two attacks. “The aircraft dropped a bomb at the venue; it destroyed and killed our people, including women and children,” he said.
The witness further described a second bomb dropped on those attempting to retrieve the bodies of the initial victims, resulting in additional casualties.
The aftermath of the strike depicted a scene of unimaginable horror, with bodies strewn across the area.
A woman who witnessed the devastation reported that some women died holding their babies while others perished alongside their mothers.
The National Emergency Management Agency in Abuja confirmed that 85 bodies had been buried so far, emphasizing that the casualties included children, women, and older people. The agency also disclosed ongoing search efforts for potential survivors.
President Tinubu has called for a “thorough and full-fledged investigation into the incident” and urged the public to remain calm as authorities diligently probe the mishap.
Governor Uba Sani echoed these sentiments, emphasizing the need for a comprehensive investigation into the tragic event.
This unfortunate incident reignites concerns about the Nigerian military’s previous accusations of causing civilian casualties while combating militia gangs, locally known as bandits, in the northwest region.
The government has classified these groups as “terrorists.” According to a report by SB Morgen, a research firm, more than 300 people have lost their lives in accidental strikes by the Nigerian military since 2017.
In 2021, a similar tragedy unfolded when at least 20 fishermen were inadvertently killed in a Nigerian fighter jet strike on a jihadist camp in northeast Nigeria.
The recurring nature of these incidents underscores the pressing need for a thorough review of military protocols to prevent further civilian casualties in the fight against insurgency.
As the affected community mourns its losses and the nation grapples with the repercussions, the call for accountability and a reevaluation of military operations gains prominence.
The quest for justice and preventive measures to avert such tragedies in the future becomes an urgent imperative for the authorities involved.
This article was created using automation technology and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members