NAF begins probe of ‘accidental airstrikes’ on civilians

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) says it has commenced investigation into alleged accidental airstrikes on civilians during military operations in the country.


Oladayo Amao, chief of air staff, while speaking on Thursday at the 2022 Air Operations Seminar held in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom capital, said the investigation will enable accountability.


The air chief, according to a statement issued by Edward Gabkwet, NAF spokesperson, said the probe would help NAF learn from previous operational negligences and introduce measures to prevent future occurrences.


“The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Oladayo Amao has stated that a committee of officers has been instituted to compile all allegations of accidental air strikes on civilians as well as review the circumstances leading to such strikes,” the statement reads.


 “This, according to him, was with a view to proffering far-reaching measures that would mitigate future incidences of collateral damages on civilians during Nigerian Air Force (NAF) operations.


“Air marshal Amao stated this today, October 27, 2022 at the opening ceremony of the 2022 Air Operations Seminar holding at Uyo, Akwa Ibom State from October 27-28, 2022.


“Speaking further, Air Marshal Amao noted that the investigation further aims at promoting accountability, allow the NAF to learn valuable lessons in order to avoid or mitigate similar cases in the future as well as take extra measures to minimise civilians harm and casualties in conflict areas.”


While congratulating 17 newly winged pilots at the event, Amao charged them to abide by the laws of engagement, and that “the efforts to mitigate civilian casualties are not just a reflection of NAF values as a service, but also strategically imperative to our operations.”


The air chief also commended NAF for the efforts invested into neutralising terrorists through intensive airstrikes on their hideouts.


Meanwhile, NAF had, through its air operations, eliminated several terrorists and destroyed their hideouts in recent weeks.


However, there have been reports of civilian casualties from accidental airstrikes.


On January 17, 2017, about 52 people were killed while 120 others sustained injuries after the NAF jet accidentally bombed an internally displaced persons (IDPs) camp in Rann, Borno state.


On April 13, 2020, 17 people, including children, were killed after a NAF fighter jet bombed Sakotoku village in Damboa LGA of Borno.


On April 2022, a NAF fighter jet had reportedly killed six children, when it fired a bomb targeted at terrorists on Kurebe village in Shiroro LGA of Niger state.


Another 13 residents were wounded while one other died after NAF fighter jet struck Kunkuna village in Safana LGA of Katsina, on July 7, 2022.

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