Nigeria’s military has confirmed it has mistakenly killed civilians after bombing a refugee camp in the country’s troubled northeast, close to the Cameroonian border. The death toll, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) says, is at least 52 people. Another 120 were reportedly injured in the accidental bombing. Among the casualties are Red Cross workers, BBC reports.
Lucky Irabor, an army commander in Borno, confirmed the attack to local media saying the airstrike had been ordered based on intelligence reports which suggested the presence of Boko Haram fighters in the area. The tragic mishap prompted a quick response from the presidency with Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari sending out condolence messages via his Twitter account.
I received with regret news that the Air Force,working to mop up BH insurgents, accidentally bombed a civilian community in Rann,Borno State
— Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) January 17, 2017
The presidency also says it will “fully support” the state government as it deals with what it describes as a “regrettable operational mistake.”
With a majority of those killed being displaced people who fled their homes in fear of Boko Haram attacks, the accidental bombing is drawing fury from around the world.
Jean-Clément Cabrol, MSF Director of Operations, strongly condemned the attack in a statement. “This large-scale attack on vulnerable people who have already fled from extreme violence is shocking and unacceptable,” he said.
Over the past seven years, the Boko Haram terrorist attacks have claimed over 20,000 lives and displaced over a million people from their homes. Although the Nigerian Army has managed to quell the Islamist group in the the last year, it has struggled to completely defeat Boko Haram and there continue to be surprise attacks on innocent people.