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Nigerian military investigate alleged bombing of civilians by Air Force in Borno State

The Armed Forces of Nigeria says it has launched investigations into reports that air strikes conducted by the Air Task Force of Operation LAFIYA DOLE at Shokotoko Village in Damboa Local Government Area of Borno State on Thursday inadvertently led to the deaths of some civilians.

Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche, said in a statement on Tuesday that the investigations was to allay public concerns, adding that “subsequent actions will be taken in line with extant regulations and best practices, while remaining accountable to the Nigerian people.”

Earlier reports said that at least, 17 people were killed when a fighter jet belonging to the Nigerian Air Force fired a bomb on Sakotoku village in Damboa local government area of Borno State. Local sources said that those killed include women, and children who were allegedly playing under mango trees. 

The source noted that the Nigerian Air Force jet may have been after Boko Haram terrorists who met on Thursday in an area in Korongilum, a neighbouring village 12 kilometres away, where suspected Boko Haram insurgents had gathered earlier. 

The statement explained that “the operation, which was conducted on the night of 9 April and early hours of 10 April 2020, was based on credible intelligence reports, obtained from land forces and other security agencies as well as reliable, vetted informants, which confirmed that the target location was occupied solely by Boko Haram Terrorists. Moreover, as customary, the attack helicopter that executed the mission was accompanied by an Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft to ensure proper targeting for avoidance of collateral damage.

“Besides, it must be noted that, Nigerian Air Force (NAF) pilots, by training and in line with extant Rules of Engagement (ROEs) for the operation, do not attack any location if it is observed that non-combatants, especially women and children, are present. In such cases, the pilots would rather return to Base with their munitions unexpended. Consequently, on the strength of the foregoing, the location was considered a legitimate target.”

The statement assured “the general public that the AFN, in keeping with its professional responsibility, will continue to work assiduously to rid the North East of all terrorist elements with a view to facilitating a return to normalcy that would enable Nigerians in the area pursue their legitimate aspirations.”

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