The Air Component of Operation Whirl Punch has neutralised several bandits during an air strike in Giwa Local Government Area (LGA) of Kaduna State.
According to a statement by the Kaduna State Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, the target of the strike was a major enclave south of Kidandan in Giwa LGA, confirmed as the hideout of a bandit Alhaji Ganai.
The bandit camp was struck and destroyed, while the bandit and several members of his gang were neutralized in the strike.
Similarly, the hideout of another notorious bandit, Ali Kawaje located in Birnin Gwari LGA was also targeted and destroyed, as well as those of bandits Musa Pajelo and Kachalla Bello.
Aruwan also confirmed the destruction of others bandits camps in Walawa area, Fadaman Kanauta, while several bandits were sighted and neutralized in locations 4km southwest of Alhaji Ishiaka, 6km northeast of Maguzawa, and 2km west of Yelwa.
In yet another air strike, several armed bandits were sighted and neutralized at Dankero, in Giwa LGA.
Other areas covered in Chikun include Gwagwada Forest, Kugosi, Godani, Twali, Gwagwada, Sarkin Pawa, Kabai, Kabusu Hills, Amara Hills, Sabon Gayan and Polewire, where an active location was engaged and destroyed about 4km south of Godani.
Furthermore, armed reconnaissance was carried out over Rima, Riyawa, Rumana, the Kaduna Airport area and adjoining locations in Igabi LGA.
Other areas covered by aerial patrols include Galadimawa, Kidandan, Dogon Dawa, Saulawa, Maidaro, Maganda, Goron Dutse, Sararai, Kushaka, Kuriga, Manini, Kuduru, Yelwa and Sabon Birni, spanning Birnin Gwari, Giwa and Igabi LGAs.
Reconnaissance reportedly continued along the Kaduna-Birnin Gwari Road, Buruku, Kurmin Dande, Damba, Ungwan Yako, Udawa, Gagafada, and Kamfanin Doka.
The aerial missions extended to the Kaduna-Abuja Road and Railway, including Jaka da Rabi, Olam Farms, Rijana, Katari and Jere. Normal human and vehicular activities were observed. The same was the case in Hanawanka, Kukoki, Kadaga, Durumi, Pongu Geri and Kundu.
According to the commissioner, fighter jets maintained a presence over Ungwan Madaki in Kamazou, Chikun LGA. Kutura, Iburu, Kajuru, Kachia and Kankomi were also covered.
But “these claims adopted by the militia are baseless and unfounded”, said coalition spokesperson Turki al-Malki, referring to the Iran-backed Huthi insurgents.
The latest violence in Yemen’s intractable, seven-year war came after the Huthis claimed their first deadly attack on Abu Dhabi, capital of coalition partner the United Arab Emirates, on Monday.
This week has witnessed a dramatic upswing in the conflict that has already killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions, creating what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
The rebels seized the capital Sanaa in 2014, prompting the Saudi-led intervention — supported by the US, France and Britain — in March 2015. It was intended to last just a few weeks.
The internet blackout, which went into its second day on Saturday according to web monitor NetBlocks, complicated rescue work and media reporting as information slowed to a trickle.
Unverified footage released by the Huthis revealed gruesome scenes at the bombed-out prison facility as rescue workers scrabbled to dig out bodies and mangled corpses were placed in piles.
‘Horrific act of violence’
Eight aid agencies operating in Yemen said in a joint statement that the prison in Saada, the rebels’ home base, was used as a holding centre for migrants, who made up many of the casualties.
They said they were “horrified by the news that more than 70 people, including migrants, women and children, have been killed… in a blatant disregard for civilian lives”.
Hospitals were overwhelmed as hundreds of casualties flooded in, aid workers said.
“It is impossible to know how many people have been killed. It seems to have been a horrific act of violence,” said Ahmed Mahat, Doctors Without Borders’ head of mission in Yemen.
The strikes came after the Huthis took the seven-year war into a new phase by claiming the drone and missile attack on Abu Dhabi that killed three people on Monday.
The UAE threatened reprisals after the attack, which was the first deadly assault it has acknowledged inside its borders that was claimed by the Huthis.
Meeting on Friday, the UN Security Council unanimously condemned the “heinous terrorist attacks” on Abu Dhabi, but the council’s Norwegian presidency also denounced the strikes on Yemen.
In a later statement, the UN chief Antonio Guterres “reminds all parties that attacks directed against civilians and civilian infrastructure are prohibited by international humanitarian law”.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for “all parties to the conflict to de-escalate” and “abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law”.
However, the Huthis warned foreign companies to leave the “unsafe” UAE, a veiled threat of revenge attacks after Friday’s strikes.
“We advise the foreign companies in Emirates to leave because they invest in an unsafe country and the rulers of this country continue in their aggression against Yemen,” tweeted military spokesperson Yahya Saree.
At least 70 people were killed in an air strike on a prison as Yemen’s long-running conflict suffered a dramatic escalation Friday that drew condemnation from UN chief Antonio Guterres.
The Huthi rebels released gruesome video footage showing bodies in the rubble and mangled corpses from the attack, which levelled buildings at the prison in their northern heartland of Saada.
Further south in the port city of Hodeida, at least three children died when air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition hit a telecommunications facility as they played nearby, Save the Children said. Yemen also suffered a country-wide internet blackout.
“The children were reportedly playing on a nearby football field when missiles struck,” Save the Children said.
Eight aid agencies operating in Yemen said in a joint statement they were “horrified by the news that more than 70 people, including migrants, women and children, have been killed… in a blatant disregard for civilian lives”.
They said the prison in Saada was used as a holding centre for migrants, who made up many of the casualties.
But the United Arab Emirates insisted that it and other coalition members remained committed to “proportionate” responses to Huthi attacks.
“The coalition undertakes to abide by international law and proportionate response in all its military operations,” UAE ambassador to the United Nations Lana Nusseibeh said.
The strikes came after the Huthis took the seven-year war into a new phase by claiming a drone and missile attack on Abu Dhabi that killed three people on Monday.
They came as the UN Security Council met to discuss that attack at the UAE’s request.
The council unanimously condemned the “heinous terrorist attacks” by the Yemeni rebels, but in a statement before the meeting the council’s Norwegian presidency also strongly condemned the latest violence.
“It’s not acceptable,” Norwegian ambassador Mona Juul said of the strikes, calling for “de-escalation and restraint”.
In a later statement, the UN said Guterres “reminds all parties that attacks directed against civilians and civilian infrastructure are prohibited by international humanitarian law.”
Aid workers said hospitals in Saada were overwhelmed after the prison attack, with one receiving 70 dead and 138 wounded, according to Doctors Without Borders.
Two other hospitals have received “many wounded” and as night fell, the rubble was still being searched, the aid agency said.
Ahmed Mahat, Doctors Without Borders’ head of mission in Yemen, said: “There are many bodies still at the scene of the air strike, many missing people.”
“It is impossible to know how many people have been killed. It seems to have been a horrific act of violence.”
The coalition claimed the attack in Hodeida, a lifeline port for the shattered country, but did not say it had carried out any strikes on Saada.
Saudi Arabia’s state news agency said the coalition carried out “precision air strikes… to destroy the capabilities of the Huthi militia in Hodeida”.
It said Saudi air defences destroyed a missile fired from Saada on Friday towards Khamis Mushait, site of a major Saudi air base.
Global internet watchdog NetBlocks reported a “nation-scale collapse of internet connectivity”.
AFP correspondents in Hodeida and Sanaa confirmed the outage. Save the Children said it would hamper its operating capacity.
Yemen’s civil war began in 2014 when the Huthis descended from their base in Saada to overrun the capital Sanaa, prompting Saudi-led forces to intervene to prop up the government the following year.
Tensions have soared in recent weeks after the UAE-backed Giants Brigade drove the rebels out of Shabwa province, undermining their months-long campaign to take the key city of Marib further north.
On January 3, the Huthis hijacked a United Arab Emirates-flagged ship in the Red Sea, prompting a warning from the coalition that it would target rebel-held ports.
And on Monday, they claimed a long-range attack that struck oil facilities and the airport in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, killing two Indians and a Pakistani, and wounding six other people.
The attack — the first deadly assault acknowledged by the UAE inside its borders and claimed by the Huthis — opened up a new front in Yemen’s war and sent regional tensions soaring.
In retaliation, the coalition carried out air strikes against rebel-held Sanaa that killed 14 people.
Yemen’s civil war has been a catastrophe for millions of its citizens who have fled their homes, with many close to famine in what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
The UN has estimated the war killed 377,000 people by the end of 2021, both directly and indirectly through hunger and disease.
At least 64 people were killed and 180 were injured in an air strike on a market in Ethiopia’s war-torn northern Tigray region, a local health officer said Thursday, as the army denied targeting civilians.
Details of the bloody attack on Togoga town, 30 kilometres (18 miles) northwest of the regional capital Mekele, on Tuesday were slow to emerge partly because soldiers initially blocked emergency workers from accessing the area.
By Thursday, hospitals in Mekele were treating at least 73 people, including young children.
Victims at the hospital suffered shrapnel wounds and burns, and in some cases doctors were forced to perform amputations to save lives.
– Rebels dressed as civilians –
The Ethiopian military admitted carrying out the attack but said it targeted rebel fighters, not civilians.
The health officer told AFP at least 64 people had died.
“The air strike was in the market area, so many, many people were injured,” said Mulu Atsbaha, an advisor to the Tigray regional administration on maternal and child health.
He said the toll had been collated from residents of Togoga and “confirmed with local leaders”.
Survivors spoke of huge devastation as aerial explosions tore through the busy market around 1 pm, killing and injuring dozens, reducing nearby homes to rubble and burying people under the ruins.
But Ethiopia’s military spokesman said rebel fighters dressed in civilian clothes, gathered in Togoga to celebrate “Martyr Day”, were attacked.
“We do not accept that this operation targeted civilians,” Colonel Getnet Adane told AFP.
“It is a clear fact that both the remnants of the TPLF and its militia dress in civilian clothes,” he said, referring to the renegade former regional leadership.
Genet also denied the army targeted a market, adding that while it was market day on Tuesday, “in Ethiopia, people go to the markets in the morning, and by the afternoon they are usually deserted.”
Gebregiorgies Gebrehaweria, who was admitted to hospital in Mekele with a leg injury, said: “I didn’t hear anything until the jet passed overhead.”
“Then suddenly there was an explosion, and shrapnel went everywhere,” the 23-year-old said. “Two of my friends were killed. There were bodies everywhere lying on the ground, I don’t know how many.”
The attack came as vote counting was under way following Monday’s national elections in Ethiopia.
No vote was held in Tigray because of the conflict, and the region has seen an upsurge in fighting and rebel advances in recent days.
They included the brief occupation of the key town of Adigrat in the far north, and Wukro, further south nearer Mekele, residents told AFP, while heavy shelling was reported to the north of the regional capital on Thursday morning.
Flights in and out of Mekele were disrupted for a second day Thursday.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops to Tigray in November to oust the dissident regional leadership, promising a swift victory.
But nearly eight months later, fighting continues, which has triggered a humanitarian crisis with the UN warning 350,000 people are on the brink of famine.
– International outrage –
The strike has provoked international outrage, with the United States calling it a “reprehensible act”.
The European Union said the blocking of ambulances from reaching the scene would be a grave violation of international law, while the United Nations called for an urgent investigation into the strike.
Ethiopia’s foreign ministry spokesman Dina Mufti rejected the criticism, accusing the rebels of using human shields to draw attacks.
“The Ethiopian government does not target civilians. It is only moving to pick up people wanted by the law,” he told reporters on Thursday.
Dina complained that international attention was focused on Tuesday’s deadly attack, rather than Monday’s polls, saying foreign powers “didn’t care to give statements on this historical election”.
A French airstrike killed 19 civilians in Mali in January, a UN report said on Tuesday, prompting a strong denial from France.
The French air force struck near the remote village of Bounti on January 3, in circumstances that sparked controversy in the war-torn Sahel state.
Residents of the village said the strike hit a wedding party and killed civilians.
In the incident’s aftermath, France’s military said it had killed jihadists, not civilians, and also denied the presence of a wedding party in Bounti.
The United Nations mission in Mali, known as MINUSMA, subsequently launched an investigation.
In a report summarising the probe’s findings, the UN said Tuesday a wedding had in fact taken place and had “gathered about 100 civilians at the site of the strike”.
It added that about five armed people, who are thought to be members of the jihadist group Katiba Serma, attended the celebrations.
In Paris, the French defence ministry stood by its denial, saying it “maintains with consistency and reaffirms strongly” that an “armed terrorist group” had been identified and attacked.
It also said it had “numerous reservations about the methodology” used in the investigation.
‘Protected by law’
At least 22 people died in the French strike, of whom 19 were civilians, according to the probe. No women or children were killed.
“The group affected by the strike was overwhelmingly composed of civilians who are protected persons under international humanitarian law,” said the report.
The report also questioned whether the French military had enough time to ensure that its strike would not harm civilians.
“It appears difficult to discount the presence of civilians… in such a short period of time,” it said.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the report “raises some very significant concerns on the respect of the conduct of hostilities, including precautionary principles and the obligation by member states to do everything (they can) to verify that targets are indeed military objectives.”
The UN report constitutes a rare criticism of the actions of French forces in Mali.
Mali has been struggling to contain an Islamist insurgency which first broke out in the north of the country in 2012 before spreading to the centre and neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.
France, the former colonial power, intervened in Mali in 2013 to beat back the jihadists, and now has some 5,100 soldiers deployed across the semi-arid Sahel region.
Central Mali, where the strike on Bounti occurred, is an epicentre of the brutal conflict.
The circumstances surrounding the strike on January 3 were initially confused.
Several villagers told AFP after the strike that a wedding party was attacked by a lone unidentified helicopter, for example.
But the French military denied wrongdoing and said it had “neutralised” dozens of jihadists in a precision strike.
“The reports relating to a wedding do not match the observations that were made,” an army spokesman told AFP in January.
Much of central Mali is a war zone and it is extremely hard to independently verify accusations.
Mali’s government later supported the French military’s account.
It denied that a wedding took place and added that “all information received in real time justified that the neutralised targets were confirmed military objectives”.
The strikes were carried out under Operation Eclipse, a joint operation gathering armed forces from Mali, France and the G5 Sahel, a coalition made up of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania and Niger as well as Mali.
The UN report is based on 115 individual interviews. Investigators also conducted group interviews and about 100 telephone interviews.
It recommended that “Malian and French authorities conduct an independent, credible and transparent investigation” into the strike.
Such an investigation should, among other things, establish whether armed forces had broken international law, the UN said.
The UN report also comes after another disputed French air strike in Mali last week.
Six people were killed in the northeast of the vast nation of 19 million people on March 25.
French forces say the strike targeted jihadists but local residents have alleged those left dead were young hunters.
Several shops were badly damaged in the air raid, Hachemi said.
On their Facebook page, forces loyal to the GNA published pictures of badly damaged buildings and vehicles and accused pro-Haftar forces of carrying out the raid.
GNA forces said in a statement that they had captured 25 pro-Haftar fighters on Wednesday.
Libya has been mired in conflict since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi, with rival administrations in the east and west vying for power.
According to UN figures published last month, clashes around Tripoli since April 4 have killed more than 280 civilians and 2,000 fighters, while over 140,000 people have been forced to flee their homes.
At least two civilians have been killed while 20 others were wounded in an air strike on a shopping area during rush hour near Libya’s capital.
According to the mayor of the town, Jamal Baher, the airstrike which occurred on Thursday on the town of Zawiya, 45 kilometres (30 miles) west of Tripoli, hit a pharmacy, a bakery and cars parked on the street.
“Two people were killed and 20 others were wounded,” he told AFP.
The airstrike took place as the area was busy with shoppers ahead of the weekend, which starts Friday in the North African country.
It comes amid fighting between the Tripoli-based, UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and rival forces answering to strongman Khalifa Haftar, who is based in the country’s east.
Tensions have further spiked in recent weeks as Turkey said it could deploy troops in Libya to support the GNA.
Earlier on Thursday, GNA Interior Minister, Fathi Bashaga, said his government may officially seek Turkish military support to counter an offensive on Tripoli launched by Haftar in April.
Haftar has “provided foreign forces with military bases in Libya,” Bashagha told journalists in the Tunisian capital Tunis.
“If this position continues, we have the right to defend Tripoli and we will officially ask the Turkish government for its military support,” he added.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is in Tunisia to discuss the conflict in Libya, said his country’s parliament will vote in January on a motion to send troops to Libya to support the GNA.
“God willing, we will pass it in parliament on January 8-9 and thus respond to an invitation” from the GNA, said Erdogan.
His comments come after the Turkish parliament on Saturday ratified a security and military cooperation deal with the GNA.
Libya was plunged into chaos with the toppling and killing of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi in a 2011 NATO-backed uprising.
It has since become divided between two main camps: the GNA and a rival administration in the country’s east, backed by Haftar.
The GNA on Thursday accused Haftar’s forces of carrying out the deadly airstrike on Zawiya.
There was no immediate comment from Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army.
At least 284 civilians have been killed and 363 wounded since Haftar launched his offensive to seize Tripoli, according to UN figures. Tens of thousands have been displaced from their homes.
Three civilians were killed Saturday in an air raid south of the Libyan capital, a source in the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord said.
“Several air strikes have targeted different positions in the Al-Swani area (25 kilometres from Tripoli), killing three civilians who were in a vehicle en route from Al-Krimiya,” GNA spokesman Mustafa al-Mejii told AFP.
“One of the raids hit a house in the area,” he added, accusing eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar of being behind the strikes and others targeting residential areas of the capital and its suburbs.
At least 42 people were killed and dozens injured in an air strike on a town in southern Libya, a local official and the UN-recognised government said Monday.
The Government of National Accord accused forces of military strongman Khalifa Haftar of carrying out the strike Sunday on the town of Morzuk that a local official told AFP left “42 dead and more than 60 injured, 30 of them critically”
The GNA does not have the capacity to protect migrants from air raids, Bachagha said during a meeting with Maria do Valle Ribeiro, assistant to the UN special envoy to Libya, according to the ministry.
At least 44 migrants were killed and more than 130 wounded Tuesday night in the airstrike that targeted a hangar in a detention centre in the Tripoli suburb of Tajoura.
On Thursday, around 300 migrants of the centre’s original 600 detainees were still being held there, the International Organization for Migration said.
They were receiving humanitarian assistance from the IOM, Safa Msehli, communications director for the UN agency in Libya, told AFP.
Msehli was unable to confirm reports that dozens of migrants had fled on Tuesday night after the raid in the Tripoli suburb of Tajoura which also left 130 wounded.
The UN’s humanitarian office OCHA, quoting survivors, said guards at the centre fired on migrants trying to flee causing no casualties, but the GNA interior ministry denied this as “rumours and false information”.
The IOM said its teams had “located” and transferred to hospital “a group of injured migrants who left Tajoura after the attack in the surrounding neighbourhood”.
“Innocent lives were lost in the attack on Tuesday night, and immediate action is needed from all sides,” the IOM’s Libya chief of mission, Othman Belbeisi.
The GNA and its arch-foe strongman Khalifa Haftar traded blame for the deadly assault which has sparked an international outcry and calls for an independent probe.
But despite a storm of outrage, a divided UN Security Council failed to unanimously condemn the attack in an emergency meeting Wednesday after the United States did not endorse a proposed statement.
Migrants from Algeria, Morocco, Sudan, Somalia, and Mauritania, as well as other African nations, were among the victims, Amin al-Hachmi, a spokesperson for the GNA health ministry, told AFP.
The majority of migrants at the centre in Tajoura, a suburb east of the capital Tripoli, were from Eritrea and Sudan.
Two of the five hangars that made up the centre were hit by the air strike, while “hangar number 3”, which housed more than 120 migrants, took a direct hit.
According to the IOM, of the more than 600 migrants detained in Tajoura, 187 were registered with its “Humanitarian Voluntary Return” programme, which helps migrants go back to their home countries.
“The IOM continues to call for an end to the arbitrary detention and reminds all parties that civilians are not a target,” it said in a statement.
Some 3,300 migrants are still detained in and around the Libyan capital in centres “considered at-risk” in light of the fighting between the opposing forces of Hafter and the GNA, the IOM added.
Rights groups say migrants face horrifying abuses in Libya, which remains prey to a multitude of militias vying for control of the oil-rich country.
Their situation has worsened since Haftar — supported by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Saudi Arabia — launched on April 4 an offensive to conquer Tripoli, where the Turkey-backed GNA is based.
UN agencies and humanitarian organisations repeat regularly their opposition to the return of migrants arrested at sea to Libya, where they find themselves in “arbitrary detention” or at the mercy of militias.
The North African country that has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 uprising against dictator Moamer Kadhafi.
Nine Nigerians were killed in an air strike on a migrant detention centre in Libya that has sparked international outrage, the foreign ministry in Abuja said Thursday.
The United Nations has said the attack in Tripoli on Tuesday night could constitute a war crime, while Libya’s internationally recognised government and its arch-foe strongman Khalifa Haftar trade blame for the assault.
The foreign ministry said preliminary findings by a diplomatic mission that visited the hangar in the suburb of Tajoura “have confirmed that nine Nigerian men lost their lives”.
“The mission has identified and taken custody of three women, one man, a toddler and a 10-year-old boy,” the statement said.
The UN says that 44 people were killed and more than 130 severely wounded in the attack.
The foreign ministry said it was waiting for “a list from the centre to ascertain whether there are other Nigerians affected by the blast”.
It called for “an independent investigation with a view to bringing the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice”.
Wracked by chaos since the 2011 uprising against dictator Moamer Kadhafi, Libya has become a major conduit for migrants seeking to reach Europe and remains prey to numerous militias vying for control of the country’s oil wealth.
Violence has flared since Haftar in April launched an offensive to seize the capital, where the rival Government of National Accord is based.
Rights groups say migrants face horrifying abuses in Libya, and their plight has worsened since the assault on the capital started.
The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss an air strike on a detention centre in Libya that killed scores of migrants, diplomats said.
The meeting — to be held behind closed doors from 3:00 pm (1900 GMT) — will include a briefing from representatives of the UN refugee agency and the UN political affairs department.
Council members will hear a briefing from representatives of the UN refugee agency and the UN political affairs department.
At least 44 people were killed when the strike hit the Tajoura detention center east of Tripoli late Tuesday and more than 130 were severely injured, the UN said.
Tajoura held at least 600 refugees and migrants, including women and children. UN agencies said they expected the death toll from the attack to rise.
Tensions have soared in Libya since forces loyal to commander Khalifa Haftar, who holds sway in the east of the country, launched an offensive in April to seize Tripoli, held by a UN-recognized government and various militias.
World powers have been divided on how to respond to Haftar’s military campaign, with the United States and Russia refusing to back UN calls for a ceasefire.
The Tripoli government has blamed Haftar for the attack on the detention center.
UN envoy Ghassan Salame has called for an independent investigation and warned that the attack may constitute a war crime.