September 16, (THEWILL) – The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) on Thursday admitted that one of its fighter jets “unfortunately” bombed civilians in Yobe state on Wednesday.
NAF, in a statement issued on Thursday by its Director of Public Relations and Information, Edward Gabkwet, said an investigation into the incident has commenced.
THEWILL reports that residents of Buhari community, in the Yunusari local government area of Yobe on Wednesday claimed a NAF fighter jet on aerial bombardment killed nine people in the area while several other villagers sustained injuries.
According to a resident, Abubakar Suleiman, “ When shots were fired from the aircraft, people ran helter-skelter. Sadly, some were killed while others sustained injuries. More than 20 people, including, old men, women and children were being treated at Gaidam General Hospital.” He added that those with serious injuries were referred to Specialist Hospital, Damaturu for treatment.
The Air Force had on Wednesday denied reports linking its fighter jets to the bombing. Gabkwet had explained that the mission last conducted by NAF in Yobe was earlier in the month.
“NAF last conducted a mission into Yobe State (not Yunusari LGA) on 5 September 2021 and it was an armed Recce. No bomb or missile was even expended,” he had said.
However, admitting the “unfortunate bombing” in a statement on Thursday, NAF said the “initial release denying the involvement of NAF aircraft was based on the first report available” at the time.
Gabkwet said the location of the incident was a notorious lair for terrorists and “well known for continuous Boko Haram/ISWAP activities.”
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.”