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NAF fighter jet in search of terrorists mistakenly bombs village in Yobe, kills 10 – NAF

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A Nigerian Air Force fighter jet has killed nine people in Buhari community, Yunusari Local Government Area of Yobe State, residents say.

Several other villagers sustained injuries and are now receiving medical attention at a government health facility in Geidam.

According to a resident of Damaturu, Saleh Ibrahim, the jet shelled the village in the early hours of Wednesday when the villagers were preparing to go to the weekly market in Geidam, a neighbouring local government, 200 km from Damaturu.

“The villagers were already set to go to the market at Geidam early in the morning when, suddenly, the jet appeared from nowhere and started shelling the village.

“Instantly, three people died. The sound of gunshots scared the villagers and they ran for safety, but others sustained injuries as a result.

“Some of the injured were attempting to tend to the dead people when they also got hit by bullets from the jet.

“As of 5 pm on Wednesday, the number of dead people had risen to nine, while over 30 people sustained injuries and are receiving treatment at Geidam General Hospital,” Ibrahim disclosed.

He added, “Buhari village is in Yunusari local government, but Buhari village is closer to Geidam and the entire Yunusari local government doesn’t have facilities to attend to the injured victims.”

Meanwhile, the Nigeria airforce which had earlier denied the claim, saying no bomb or missile were expended in its last operation in Yobe, has now made a u-turn.

In a statement on Wednesday, the NAF spokesman, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, said, “NAF last conducted a mission into Yobe State (not Yunusari LGA) on 5 September 2021 and it was an armed Recce. No bomb or missile was even expended,” he said.

But in a new statement made available to journalists today and titled, ‘Investigation commences on alleged aircraft firing of civilian settlements’, Gabkwet said that the location of the incident was a notorious lair for terrorists and “well known for continuous Boko Haram/ISWAP activities.”

The statement reads, “Following intelligence on Boko Haram/ISWAP movements along the Kamadougou Yobe River line, an aircraft from the Air Component of Operation Hadin Kai was detailed to respond to the suspected terrorist activities in the area along the Nigeria/Niger border at about 0600hrs on 15 September 2021.

“The aircraft, while operating South of Kanama, observed suspicious movement consistent with Boko Haram terrorist behaviour whenever a jet aircraft is overhead. Accordingly, the pilot fired some probing shots. It is important to state that the area is well known for continuous Boko Haram/ISWAP activities.

“Unfortunately, reports reaching Nigerian Air Force Headquarters alleged that some civilians were erroneously killed while others were injured.

“Initial release denying the involvement of NAF aircraft was based on the first report available to the Air Component, which was subsequently forwarded to NAF headquarters that civilians were bombed as the aircraft detailed for the mission was not carrying bombs.

“Therefore, a Board of Inquiry has been set up to thoroughly investigate the circumstances of the incident.”

There has been several reports of the airforce mistaken its targets and instead shelling civilians villages in the fight against insulgency, with even some incidents, involving the shelling of Nigerian soldiers fighting Boko Haram.

In March 21, 2014, in Kayamla, a village in Borno, bombs expelled from a fighter jet in search of Boko Haram sect, killed 10 villagers.

Also in April 13, 2020, at least 17 people were said to have been killed when a fighter jet fired a bomb on Sakotoku village in Damboa local government area of Borno state.

The earliest being in April, 2021, when reports accused the airforce of launching an attack on ground troops, killing 20 soldiers in Mainok, in Borno state.