88 Dead in Accidental Drone Strike

(RightWing.org) – Nigeria has struggled for years with armed criminal gangs raiding remote villages in areas where law enforcement officials are scarce. They notoriously kill some residents and kidnap others, holding them for ransom. Government officials recently started dispatching military jets to carry out air strikes on those bandit militias. In October, African news agencies reported that they killed about 100 gunmen in the nation’s northwestern region. A recent report now indicates that dozens of civilians were killed during an accidental drone strike in the same area.

News outlets recently confirmed that 88 individuals died after Nigerian troops mistook civilian villagers for armed bandits on December 3. Army personnel launched an aerial drone that struck festival goers in Tudun Biri, a tiny village in Kaduna State.

On December 5, Brig. Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, the head of public relations for the Nigerian Army, issued a press release offering military officials’ apology for the fatal strike. He also pledged that military brass would assist victims, their families, and the community at large.

The statement detailed Army Chief of Staff (COAS) Lt. Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja’s “condolence visit” to the impacted village earlier that day. The COAS met with the district head, civic leaders, and other community members. He was accompanied by the Nigerian Army’s 1st Division commander and other staff officers.

Nwachukwu reported that Lagbaja gave an “emotion-laden speech” during the visit. He described the fatal accident as a “disheartening occurrence” and expressed his regrets that the “unfortunate mishap” occurred.

Turning his attention to the reasons for the drone strike, the COAS advised that military officials were conducting aerial surveillance of the area shortly before the attack. He said they “wrongly analyzed and misinterpreted” the movements and activities of a group of villagers, thinking they were armed bandits and launched the unmanned aerial vehicles.

Afterward, the COAS met with the local heads of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, an organization providing missionary work and Islamic education for Nigerian Muslims. He also met with local clerics and visited surviving victims of the erroneous drone strike at a local teaching hospital.

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