Nigerian Military airstrike kills 20 fishermen — AFP
According to local sources, a Nigerian bombardment of Kwatar Daban Masara in the country’s northeast has killed 20 fishermen.
Two security sources and residents told the AFP news agency that at least 20 fisherman were killed inadvertently after Nigeria’s military bombed a militant base in the country’s northeast.
According to sources on Monday, a Nigerian fighter jet bombed Kwatar Daban Masara on Lake Chad, which borders Nigeria and neighbouring Niger, Chad, and Cameroon.
The Daesh-affiliated Islamic State West Africa Province has a stronghold in the area (ISWAP).
The casualties were reported less than two weeks after officials said another air strike on a village in Nigeria’s northeast killed nine civilians. The military is fighting a 12-year militant insurgency.
ISWAP recently overturned a ban on fishermen entering its area, enabling them to enter for a fee to fish in the freshwater lake. As a result, a large number of fishermen who had previously abandoned the area returned.
“Any fisherman that goes to that area does so at his own risk because it is an enemy territory and there is no way of differentiating them from the terrorists,” one local intelligence source said.
“From the information we have been receiving the death toll is much higher than 20.”
According to local fisherman Labo Sani, the jet strike hit Kwatar Daban Masara around 6 a.m. (0500 GMT), killing around 20 fishermen.
According to Sani from nearby Daban Masara, Kwatar Daban Masara is the “gateway to ISWAP’s camps on several islands” and a supply route for the militants.
Sallau Arzika, another fisherman, said the fighter jet hit the town, “killing many of our people who are there for fishing”
“The initial death toll was around 20, but the figure has been increasing with the deaths of many of the injured,” Arzika said.
Due to the region’s inadequate connectivity, news of the occurrence took a long time to reach the public.
A message requesting confirmation or comment from a Nigerian air force spokesman was not immediately returned.
The operation was predicated on “credible information” of a gathering of ISWAP members in the village since Wednesday, according to an intelligence source who works with anti-militant militia in the area.
According to the source, aerial surveillance and reports from other sources suggested militants were massing in Kwatar Daban Masara, and it was clear they were plotting an attack.
Another security source claims that the area has been under monitoring for the past ten days after scores of persons suspected of being foreign fighters came in multiple vehicles and were transferred to camps inside the lake.
“It was a preemptive strike to destroy whatever plans the terrorists were making,” a security source claimed.
“You don’t expect an innocent civilian to be at that location,” he continued, “and whoever is found is almost certainly a terrorist.”