Air Force Makes U-Turn, To Investigate ‘Bombardment’ Of Yobe Community
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) says it has commenced an investigation into the ‘bombing’ of a community in Yobe State.
Initial reports on Wednesday suggested that a NAF fighter jet had carried out the bombing which reportedly left several persons killed and many more injured.
The Air Force had earlier denied any involvement in the incident but in a brief statement on Thursday, the force spokesman, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet said a proper investigation is ongoing.
According to Commodore Gabkwet, the probe is occasioned by the fact that an aircraft from the Air Component of Operation Hadin Kai was detailed to respond to suspected terrorists’ activities along the Kamadougou Yobe River line.
He further revealed that following intelligence on the suspicious movements consistent with Boko Haram/ISWAP fighters along the Nigeria/Niger border, “the pilot fired some probing shots”.
The Air Force spokesman emphasized that the area is well known for continuous Boko Haram /ISWAP activities.
Commodore Gabkwet disclosed that NAF’s initial release denying any involvement was based on the first report suggesting that civilians were bombed.
He explained that contrary to what had been reported, “the aircraft detailed for the mission was not carrying bombs” and as such, a board of inquiry has been set up to thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident.
The governor of Yobe state, Mai Mala Buni, said lives were lost during an air strike on Buhari village, but did not confirm a death toll.
“It could have been an accident or mistaken target, but government will join hands with the security agencies to unravel the root cause of the incident,” his spokesman Mamman Mohammed said in a statement.
In January 2017, at least 112 people were killed when a fighter jet struck a camp housing 40,000 people displaced by jihadist violence in the town of Rann near the border with Cameroon.
The Nigerian military blamed “lack of appropriate marking of the area” for the bombardment in a report it issued six months later.
In July 2019, at least 13 civilians were killed when a Nigerian fighter jet hit Gajiganna village, as it targeted fleeing jihadists who had attacked a nearby base.