President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed deep sadness and regret over the accidental bombing of a civilian community in Rann, Borno, by the Nigerian Air Force engaged in fighting Boko Haram insurgency in the area.
In a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, in Abuja on Tuesday, the president condoled with families of the dead. The president, who expressed sympathy to the Borno Government, also wished those wounded during the incident divine succour, leading to full recovery. He pledged the Federal Government’s help for the state government in attending to “this regrettable operational mistake”. Buhari, who pleaded for calm, prayed God to grant repose to the souls of the dead.
The Nigeria Army has said that a fighter jet misfired and shot some humanitarian aid workers of the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC), recording casualties. The Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj. Gen. Lucky Irabor, said the victims were possibly aid workers and civilians.
Irabor said that the accident happened at Kala Balge Area of Borno. “So far, it is a little bit disturbing; death has occurred. There are casualties; there are deaths and injuries”, Irabor said. “But on the actual number of casualties, we will get back to you later. I am yet to get the number of casualties of civilians killed, but two soldiers were also affected,’’ he added.
The shots reportedly hit the Medicines Sans Frontiers and some civilians. “This morning, we received a report about the gathering of Boko Haram terrorists around Kala Balge area of Maiduguri. “I coordinated and I directed that the air component of the operation should go and address the problem.
“Unfortunately, the strike was conducted but it turned out that other civilians were somewhere around the area and they were affected.’’ He said some humanitarian staff of Medicines Sans Frontiers and some staff of International Committee of Red Cross(ICRC) were also affected.
“We are sending helicopters to evacuate those that were critically wounded, including our wounded soldiers,” Irabor said.