Nigerian air force mistakenly bombs refugee camp killing dozens

The medical charity MSF says its teams 'have seen over 120 wounded and 50 dead.'

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

This handout image received courtesy of Doctors Without Border (MSF) on January 17, 2017, shows people standing next to destruction after an air force jet accidentally bombarded a refugee camp.

Updated Jan 18, 2017

Dozens of people were killed when a Nigerian air force jet accidently bombarded a camp housing internally displaced people made homeless by Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria, medical charity MSF said on Tuesday.

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

"A military jet mistakenly bombarded Rann," a resident said, adding that "at least 25 people were killed and many more injured." 

MSF said its teams "have seen 120 wounded and 50 dead."

But a state official in Borno, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said more than 100 refugees have been killed.

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.

TRT World's Sophia Adengo has more details from Abuja.

'Shocking and unacceptable'

MSF 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 Border (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.

International Committee of the Red Cross said six of its aid workers also died in the air strike.

Source: 
TRTWorld and agencies