HORROR: How over 100 died as Air Force bombs IDP Camp

MAIDUGURI—JUST as the nation generally, and Borno State in particular was about coming to terms with the suicide bomb attack at the University of Maiduguri, tragedy struck again in Borno State,yesterday. No fewer than 100 innocent civilians were killed in a mistaken air strike by bmen of the Nigerian Air Force of ‘Operation Lafiya Dole’ in the North-East, in a coordinated attack on a supposed group of terrorists gathering in Kala Balge Local Government Area of the state.
Sources said the air strike was carried out on one of the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, camps in Rann, the headquarters of Kala Balge council, in which civilians were killed, while two soldiers, staff of International Committee of Red Cross, ICRC and Medicine San Frontiers (Doctors without Borders) were critically wounded.

A close government source, who did not want his name mentioned said, “more than 100 innocent civilians were killed in the incident.”

The Nigerian Air Force was said to be carrying out mop-up operations against the insurgents in the North-East when the incident happened.

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has pledged that the Federal Government will help the state government in attending to the victims of the accidental bombing. The President who received the news with deep sadness and regrets, described it as regrettable and pleaded for calm. He condoled with the families of the dead, wishing the wounded divine succour and full recovery even as he sympathized with the Borno State Government.

Some victims of the error bomb attack at an IDP camp in Borno State, yesterday. Photo: AFP.

He prayed God to grant repose to the souls of the dead of “this regrettable operational mistake.”

Confirming the incident at a news conference held at the Theatre Command Headquarters of Operation Lafiya Dole yesterday, Major-General Lucky Irabor said upon receiving an intelligence report that some Boko Haram elements were regrouping in Kala Balge Local Government Area of Borno State, he quickly ordered men of the Air Force to address the problem.

He regretted that the strike was conducted in the area, unfortunately locals and other civilians were killed alongside remnants of insurgents, who were regrouping.

“This morning (yesterday), we received reports about gathering of Boko Haram terrorists somewhere in Kala Balge Local Government area of Borno State. We got a coordinate and I directed that the air should go to address the problem.

“Unfortunately, the strike was conducted but it turned out that the locals somewhere in Rann were affected.

“We are yet to get the details of the casualties. But we heard that some civilians were killed, others were wounded and we also have two of our soldiers that were also wounded. Among some that were wounded were local staff of the Medecines Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders) as well as ICRC,” Irabor said.

Kala Balge is east and about 180 kilometres drive from Maiduguri, the state capital.

Also confirming the incident, military spokesperson, Brigadier-General Rabe Abubakar confirmed the incident but explained that it was an error that the military deeply regrets.

He explained that soldiers got information of movement of Boko Haram members and deployed ground troops and air cover to tackle the terrorists.

It was the air support that mistakenly dropped the bomb, he said.

It was further learned that the state government has already ordered all hospitals in Maiduguri to be prepared to receive and promptly treat the injured. Also, an International Red Cross, ICRC, helicopter has been deployed to the camp to evacuate the wounded to the various hospitals.

Governor Shettima orders emergency medical response

Following the unfortunate incident, Governor Kashim Shettima has ordered the state Ministry of Health to set up emergency units in all medical hospitals under the state government located in Maiduguri with the state Specialist Hospital, the Professor Umaru Shehu Hospital and General Muhammad Shuwa memorial hospital, all placed on standby in readiness to carry out emergency treatment.

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