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Illustration by iStock, Security Management 

Military Air Strike Leaves 85 Civilians Dead in Nigeria

A military drone attack mistakenly killed at least 85 civilians who were gathered to observe a Muslim holiday on Sunday night in Kaduna, Nigeria.

This attack occurred 3 December in the Tudun Biri village as Muslims celebrated Maulud, the holiday marking the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. Those wounded, which the National Emergency Management Agency estimated to be at least 66, were taken to a hospital in the state capital of Kaduna.

For years, Nigeria’s military has been fighting with criminals, rebels, and militants who have operated out of the northern parts of the nation. These rebel forces have also targeted villages in the area, raiding and kidnapping residents.

President Bola Tinubu called for an investigation into the drone strike, which was the latest of recent bombings that have erroneously hit residents in the northern part of the nation. “The country’s forces frequently target the hideouts of armed groups with aerial bombardment but have sometimes bombed villagers,” Al Jazeera reported.

The head of the Nigerian army, Lieutenant General Taoreed Lagbaja apologized for the drone attack, which he said occurred while troops were carrying out routine aerial patrols. The strike was issued when the patrol spotted a group of people gathered and mistakenly determined that the group's activities were similar to those of bandits, according to BBC News.  

BBC News also reported that a second bomb struck the village while survivors from the first blast were trying to recover those killed in the initial strike.

Past Nigerian bombings have resulted in several mistaken attacks on civilians over the past decade, including at least 20 people fishing who were killed in an attack in September 2021 in Kwatar Daban Masara, according to The Guardian.

“Such incidents are enabled by a lack of punishment for erring officers or agencies, according to Isa Sanusi, Amnesty International’s director in Nigeria,” the Associated Press reported. The humanitarian group claimed the body count is closer to 120, including women and children, based from reports of workers and volunteers in the area.