Borno State, Nigeria – The Nigerian government has confirmed that a Nigerian warplane was given the wrong coordinates and mistakenly dropped a bomb onto a refugee camp in the northern Borno State region of Nigeria resulting in at least 52 confirmed killed with hundreds more refugees and aid workers wounded. The theatre commanding general, Lucky Irabor, also confirmed the incident, adding that Nigerian ground forces were responding to reports of Boko Haram fighters moving in the area of Rann where the internal displaced persons or IDP camp was located and air cover was called in. The Nigerian warplanes mistakenly targeted the Rann IDP camp as a Boko Haram stronghold and dropped a bomb in the center of the camp. General Irador took full responsibility for the tragic event in a statement to local media: “This morning today, we received reports about gathering of Boko Haram terrorists somewhere in Kala Balge Local Government Area of Borno State. We got a coordinate and I directed that the air should go to address the problem.” At the time of the press briefing General Irador could not provide an accurate account of the casualties that resulted.
However, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), or Doctors Without Borders who were providing medical assistance to refugees at the Rann IDP Camp confirmed on their Twitter feed that at least 52 civilians had been killed with up to 120 being treated at their facilities and evacuated to local hospitals in Maiduguri. MSF director of operations, Dr. Jean-Clement Cabrol also released a statement on the Medecins Sans Frontieres website condemning the accidental bombing of the camp saying: “This large-scale attack on vulnerable people who have already fled from extreme violence is shocking and unacceptable.” Dr. Cabrol continued by declaring that, “The safety of civilians must be respected. We are urgently calling on all parties to ensure the facilitation of medical evacuations by air or road for survivors who are in need of emergency care.”
The Nigerian military have been fighting Boko Haram in the northern region of Nigeria for quite some time with their recent success against the terror group happening in December. In that effort, Nigerian forces successfully attacked and routed Boko Haram from its northern Nigerian stronghold ‘Camp Zairo,’ displacing Boko Haram and its leader Abubakr Shekau from the Sambisa Forest area on the outskirts of the city of Maiduguri. This incident may put a black mark on the military’s latest triumph as it now has to switch gears from aggressor to support while they divert helicopters and ground medical teams to the Rann IDP camp to assist in the evacuation process. The situation on the ground is fluid and continually developing as this tragic event unfolds. SOFREP will continue to monitor the situation as it develops.
Feature Image Courtesy: Médecins Sans Frontières