Civilian casualties recorded in Wednesday’s airstrike by fighters jets of the Nigerian Air Force on Garin Buhari, a community in Yobe State, has surged, even as the military confirmed the incident, as it claimed the insurgents had attempted using the villagers as human shield.
NAF jet fighters had bombed Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists targets said to have been fleeing from ground troops of the Nigerian Army, however, during the air raid, many women and children were reportedly hit, with nearly 20 civilians confirmed dead as a result of the aerial bombardment.
While clearing the air on the operation, in an official statement through its spokesperson, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, NAF said reports reaching the military command headquarters alleged that some civilians were erroneously killed while others were injured in the operation in Yobe State.
“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 terrorists 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 terrorists’ 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 (NAF) Headquarters alleged that some civilians were erroneously killed while others were injured,” the NAF statement read.
One of the sources said: “The attack aircraft was on the trail of some ISWAP elements who infiltrated the villagers, apparently to escape the air onslaught.”
ISWAP fighters have in recent times deployed the tactic of dissolving into residents of communities in Borno and Yobe States to flee military bombardments.
“They quickly dissolve into communities so that they can be saved, as they know better than the fear of causing collateral damage will dissuade troops of the military air task force from striking them, alongside the villagers. But this time around, the troops took the painful decision to strike some of the terrorists who were fleeing to join the community members. Hence, the tragic incident occurred yesterday. It was just inevitable,” the source added.
So far, 22 children were officially confirmed to have sustained various injuries. Seventeen men and seven women were also affected by the military air raid.
“Of the 47 persons admitted yesterday at the Geidam Specialist Hospital, 13 have died.”