Airstrikes by the Nigerian military has killed at least seven children in neighbouring Niger Republic, according to statements by local officials, the state television and a humanitarian agency.
The airstrikes hit the village of Nachade, situated in the Maradi region of Niger, few kilometres from its border with Nigeria. The governor of the region, Chaibou Aboubakar announced on Sunday that the incident occurred on Friday.
He said five children were also wounded by the airstrikes by the Nigerian military.
“There was a mistake with the Nigerian strikes on the border that resulted in victims on our territory in the village of Nachade,” said the official.
“The victims are 12 children, seven of them dead and five wounded.”
The governor said the children’s parents were attending a ceremony and the children were playing when the airstrike hit. While he stated that the airstrikes were by the Nigerian military, he did not state or provide sopporting evidence. Locals said the State television had also claimed the attack came from the Nigerian military.
Medecines Sans Frontieres (MSF) which was treating the wounded, in its acccount of events, said at least 12 people died from the attack including four children. It quoted locals saying that Nigerian officials had trailed targets who fled a border town to avoid attacks.
Nigeria’s Director of Defence Information, Major General Jimmy Akpor in his response said: “Nigeria does not attack outside its borders”. He however did not admit or deny the unfortunate incident. He said the attack and allegations will be investigated.
“As a matter of policy, the Nigerian Air Force does not make any incursions into areas outside Nigeria’s territorial boundaries. That’s our policy,”
Early queries point to a Nigerian military attempt to attack bandits in the region which has been terrorised in recent times. Nigeria’s North West has been dealing with a surge in terrorists/bandits attacks for years now, with the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari promising in January to intensify the attacks against them.
The West Africa bloc, ECOWAS, has also tried to create a regional military outfit to tackle insurgency and terrorism as many countries within the bloc face one security travail or the other.
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