Death toll in botched Nigeria air strike rises to 70

Victims include aid workers who were distributing food at the military-run camp housing tens of thousands of people.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

This handout image from Doctors Without Border (MSF) shows people standing next to destruction after an air force jet accidentally bombarded a camp for those displaced by Boko Haram militants, in Rann, Nigeria.

The death toll of a botched raid by the Nigerian air force jet, that bombed a camp housing internally displaced people made homeless by Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria, has reached 70 according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The victims include civilians and aid workers. The ICRC confirmed that six Nigerian Red Cross workers were among the dead, while 13 others were injured.

Regional military commander General Lucky Irabor said the air strike took place on Tuesday morning at Kala Balge Local Government in Borno state. 

This is believed to be the first time Nigeria's military has admitted to making such a mistake. Villagers in the past have reported some civilian casualties in near-daily bombardments in northeastern Nigeria.

Irabor said he ordered the mission based on information that Boko Haram insurgents were gathering, along with geographic coordinates. It was too early to say if a tactical error was made, he said.

The general said the air force would not deliberately target civilians, but there will be an investigation.

'Shocking and unacceptable'

Doctors Without Borders issued a statement on Tuesday condemning the air strike.

"This large-scale attack on vulnerable people who have already fled from extreme violence is shocking and unacceptable," said MSF director of operations Jean-Clement Cabrol in a statement.

“The safety of civilians must be respected. We are urgently calling on all parties to ensure the facilitation of medical evacuations by air or road for survivors who are in need of emergency care.”

This handout image received courtesy of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on January 17, 2017, shows a wounded child after an air force jet accidentally bombarded a refugee camp.

MSF medical teams are currently providing first aid to 120 wounded patients in its facility in Rann. The organisation’s medical and surgical teams in the region are preparing to treat evacuated patients.

TRTWorld and agencies