A Nigerian jet fighter searching for Boko Haram fighters has accidentally bombed a border refugee camp, killing scores of residents and humanitarian workers.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari confirmed the incident on Twitter.
I received with regret news that the Air Force,working to mop up BH insurgents, accidentally bombed a civilian community in Rann,Borno State
— Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) January 17, 2017
The Nigerian Army has also admitted the attack at a government–run camp in Rann, near the borders with Cameroon and Chad, and about 1,000 km north of the capital Abuja.
The army said it had launched a military operation targeting terror group Boko Haram which also “unfortunately” affected civilians as well as members of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and the Red Cross international committee (ICRC).
Two soldiers also were wounded but a final toll is not yet available.
The mission was based on information that Boko Haram insurgents were gathering, along with geographic coordinates.
It was too early to say if a tactical error was made.
Major General Lucky Iraboreneral, who is the theatre commander for counterinsurgency operations in northeast Nigeria, said the air force would not deliberately target civilians but there will be an investigation.
This is believed to be the first time Nigeria’s military has admitted to making such a mistake.
The camp is in an area where Boko Haram has recently increased attacks, according to a New York Times report.
The medical charity Doctors Without Borders said its teams at the scene of the bombing counted 52 people dead and 120 injured as they provided first aid and tried to stabilise patients in hopes of evacuating the wounded.
“This large-scale attack on vulnerable people who have already fled extreme violence is shocking and unacceptable,” said Dr Jean-Clément Cabrol, MSF Director of Operations.
“The safety of civilians must be respected. We are urgently calling on all parties to ensure the facilitation of medical evacuations by air or road for survivors who are in need of emergency care.”
The Associated Press reported, citing a Borno State official, that the overall death toll may reach 100 or more.
– with agencies