Nigerian Air Force finally admits to erroneously killing civilians in Yobe
After initially denying it, the Nigerian Air Force admitted on Thursday that one of its fighter jets “unfortunately” bombed civilians in Yobe State on Wednesday while on a mission against terrorists.
In a statement made available to journalists today, NAF Director of Public Relations and Information Edward Gabkwet stated that an investigation into the incident had begun.
Residents of Buhari community in Yobe’s Yunusari Local Government Area claimed that a NAF fighter jet rained bombs from the skies on Wednesday, killing nine people and injuring several others.
On Wednesday, the Air Force spokesman had denied the allegation, claiming that last mission in Yobe state by NAF was earlier this month.
“NAF last conducted a mission into Yobe State on 5 September 2021 and it was an armed Recce. No bomb or missile was even expended,” he had said.
The initial release denying the involvement of NAF aircraft was based on the first report available at the time, according to the NAF spokesman in a statement released on Thursday.
Gabkwet said the location of the incident was a notorious terrorist hideout and “well known for continuous Boko Haram / ISWAP activities” in a statement titled “Investigation Commences On Alleged Aircraft Firing Of Civilian Settlements.”
The statement read, “Following intelligence on Boko Haram/ISWAP movements along the Kamadougou Yobe River line, an aircraft from the Air Component of Operation Hadin Kai was detailed to respond to the suspected terrorist activities in the area along the Nigeria/Niger border at about 0600hrs on 15 September 2021.
“The aircraft while operating South of Kanama observed suspicious movement consistent with Boko Haram terrorist behaviour whenever a jet aircraft is overhead. Accordingly, the pilot fired some probing shots. It is important to state that the area is well known for continuous Boko Haram /ISWAP activities.
“Unfortunately reports reaching Nigerian Air Force Headquarters alleged that some civilians were erroneously killed while others were injured.
“Initial release denying the involvement of NAF aircraft was based on the first report available to the Air Component which was subsequently forwarded to NAF headquarters that civilians were bombed as the aircraft detailed for the mission was not carrying bombs.
“Therefore, a Board of Inquiry has been set up to thoroughly investigate the circumstances of the incident.”
Nigerian military jets have in the past been accused of attacking innocent Nigerians, including soldiers, while on missions against terrorists and other criminals, due to apparent miscalculations.
In April 2021, a NAF fighter jet responding to Boko Haram insurgent attacks on a military camp in Mainok, Borno State, allegedly killed more than 20 soldiers on the ground.
The incident, according to Gabkwet, was being investigated.