Drone strike accidently kills 85 civilians in Nigeria

By Melissa Chemam with RFI
Nigeria  Daily Trust
DEC 5, 2023 LISTEN
© Daily Trust

A Nigerian army drone strike accidently killed at least 85 civilians in a village in northwest Kaduna State, officials said, in one of the country's deadliest military bombing mishaps.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on Tuesday ordered an investigation after the army acknowledged one of its drones aimed at armed groups had accidently struck the Tudun Biri village as residents were celebrating a religious holiday.

The army did not give any casualty figures, but local residents said at least 85 people were killed on Sunday, many of them women, children, and elderly, who had been feasting for the Muslim festival of Maulud.

The attack left civilians dead and injured in Tudun Biri, a locality in Kaduna State.

"Rescue and relief operations continue," the local minister of information, Samuel Aruwan, told RFI. "And dozens of injured people were evacuated to hospital by the authorities."

Dozens of families in mourning

"I was at home when I heard a sound," Ashiru Ibrahim, a local, told RFI's correspondent in Kaduna, Aminu Sado. 

"I came out quickly and saw an explosion with many dead bodies lying on the ground," he added. "We took those that were still alive and rushed them to a nearby hospital in Buruku. Before reaching [it], the second explosion occurred. Those who came to assist the injured ones, also died in the second explosion."

Ibrahim lost his daughter, Aisha, in the strikes, including his two children, his uncle and many other family members.

"We were able to count eighty dead bodies," he said. "The funeral is  ongoing as we speak. We are here in the hospital with about forty-eight injured persons, including Firdausi and Sadiya Ashiru, my biological daughters."

Another victim, Hauwa Yakubu, told RFI, "We were having a Maulud celebration, when we heard a sound of an aeroplane. Before we  realised what was happening, a bomb was dropped from the air. Many people died , instantly. We were injured but managed to run for our lives, some youth came out to rescue those that were injured but unfortunately they all died in the second explosion."

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) added that another 66 people are receiving treatment in hospital.

"The Northwest Zonal Office has received details from the local authorities that 85 dead bodies have so far been buried while search is still ongoing," NEMA said in a statement.

Emergency officials say they are still negotiating with community leaders to calm tensions so they can reach the village.

   (with AFP)