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Nigeria: those behind drone strike to be "punished"

Security forces in the village of Kukawa, in the Kanam local government area of Plateau State. 12/04/2022   -  
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The Nigerian government promised on Thursday to "punish" those responsible for the accidental bombing of civilians last Sunday in the north-west of the country, at a time when the army is under fire from civil society.

"The government will get to the bottom of this story and punish those who must be punished", Vice-President Kashim Shettima assured local television during a visit to the Kaduna hospital where those injured in the attack, which left at least 85 dead and 66 injured according to official figures, are being treated.

"The victims will be taken care of," he added. 

"Impartial investigations"

On Sunday evening, a drone strike by the Nigerian army targeted the village of Tudun Biri, in Kaduna state, whose inhabitants were celebrating the Muslim festival of Mawlid.

Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu ordered an investigation on Tuesday, but on Wednesday the United Nations "urged" Abuja to ensure that the investigation was "thorough and impartial" and that the government "hold those responsible to account" and provide reparations to the victims and their families.

Meanwhile, the NGO Amnesty International says the death toll stands at 120.

"The Nigerian authorities must investigate quickly, independently, impartially and transparently", the NGO demanded in a statement on Thursday, adding that "those responsible must be brought to justice".

On Monday, the army said that its drone was being used as part of a routine mission and that it had "inadvertently hit members of the community", before later specifying that the villagers had been mistaken for an armed group present in the region.

Since taking office in May, Tinubu has insisted that the fight against insecurity is one of his main concerns, as he seeks to attract more foreign investment to Africa's most populous country.


The Nigerian Muslim organisation Fityanul Islam of Nigeria (FIN) said in a statement on Thursday that "the army's arguments of 'mistaken identity of those targeted' are extremely inappropriate, unfair and insensitive".

Nigeria's Secretary of State for Defence, Bello Matawalle, as well as the Chiefs of Defence Staff, General Christopher Gwabin Musa, and of the Army, Lieutenant-General Taoreed Abiodun Lagbaja, travelled to Kaduna on Tuesday and Wednesday to apologise to the survivors of the attack.

This did not prevent demonstrators from protesting on Wednesday in Zaria, near the site of the attack, and in front of the National Assembly in Abuja, the capital, to demand sanctions against the army.

On a Nigerian television channel, General Christopher Gwabin Musa declared on Wednesday that "mistakes happen", before calling for an increase in the army's budget.


Militias have long terrorised parts of north-west Nigeria, operating from encampments deep in the forests.

In September 2021, at least 20 fishermen were killed and several wounded in an attack on Lake Chad, in the north-east of the country, when the army mistook them for fighters.

In January 2017, at least 112 people were killed when a fighter jet accidentally hit a camp housing 40,000 people displaced by jihadist violence near the border with Cameroon.

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