No fewer than twenty people said to be fishermen accidentally lost their lives in a Nigerian military strike on a jihadist camp in northeast Nigeria, two security sources and locals disclosed this on Monday.
A fighter jet operated by the Nigerian Air Force mistakenly dropped a bomb on a Nigerian community in the Lake Chad region.
The airstrike happened on Sunday in Kwatar Daban Masara about 50 kilometres from the Borno State capital, Maiduguri.
The attack came barely two weeks after the Nigerian military bombed a community in Yobe, also in Nigeria’s war-ravaged North-East, killing at least 12 people while many others were seriously injured.
The deaths come two months after the U.S. government transferred six A-29 Super Tucano fighter planes to Nigeria to assist in its war against Islamist militants. The sale of the aircraft was condemned by critics, citing the Nigerian military’s record of killing civilians.
An eyewitness, Husaini said “Two planes bombed a fish market in the village of Daban Masara on Sunday, “At least 50 people were killed instantly including my friend who got married just three weeks ago,” Husaini said.
The other resident confirmed that people had been fishing despite a military ban on the trade because of allegations the sales of fish are funding the Islamic State West Africa Province insurgent group. “They are innocent people like us that depend on fishing to sustain their living. Their mistake is that they were fishing in an area restricted by security forces,”
The intelligence source who works with the anti-jihadist militia in the region said the strike was based on “credible information” of a gathering of ISWAP fighters in the village since Wednesday.
He said aerial surveillance and reports from other sources revealed terrorists were amassing in Kwatar Daban Masara and it was obvious they were planning an attack, the source said.
A United Nations security report confirmed the strike, saying one fisherman was killed and six wounded
It is not clear whether the killings could affect the transfer to Nigeria of six more A-29 Super Tucanos, propeller-driven light attack aircraft.
The United States under then-President Donald Trump agreed to sell the planes to Nigeria in 2017, resurrecting a deal frozen by the Barack Obama administration after the Nigerian Air Force bombed a refugee camp, killing as many as 170 civilians.
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