A Nigerian Air Force (NAF) mission to kill Boko Haram terrorists has led to the accidental bombing of at least 20 fishermen in Borno State.
AFP reports that the military aircraft was targeting terrorist camps in Kwatar Daban Masara in the Lake Chad area when the incident happened on Sunday, September 26, 2021.
The area is considered enemy territory as it’s under the control of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) that broke away from Boko Haram in 2016.
Traders in the area are taxed by the insurgents to allow them do business, according to sources that spoke to AFP.
“The initial death toll was around 20, but the figure has been increasing with the deaths of many of the injured,” Sallau Arzika, a fisherman, told the media agency.
Sunday’s incident comes on the heel of another accidental bombing of civilians in Yobe State.
Over a dozen residents of Buhari village in Yunusari Local Government Area of the state were killed in a reported bombing by a military aircraft on September 15.
NAF said the aircraft was deployed to respond to suspected Boko Haram activities in the area along the Nigeria/Niger border, and that it fired on an area where terrorists were suspected to be converging.
A Board of Inquiry was immediately set up to thoroughly investigate the circumstances of the incident.
The Air Force is no stranger to accidental airstrikes, notably killing over 100 civilians, including aid workers, when it bombed an IDP camp in Rann, Borno State in 2017, believing the settlement to be a camp inhabited by Boko Haram terrorists.
The military accepted responsibility for the bombing and President Muhammadu Buhari called it a ‘regrettable operational mistake’, but investigations into the incident were never made public and no one was held responsible.
At least 17 people, including children, were also killed when a NAF jet bombed Sakotoku village, also in Borno, in 2020.
A video also surfaced in April 2021 showing two soldiers alleging that NAF jets targeted soldiers instead of insurgents during a confrontation in Mainok, Borno.
Between 20 and 30 soldiers were reported to have been killed as a result of the accidental strikes.
The Air Force said the reports were being investigated, but has provided no updates since then.