The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lieutenant General Taoreed Lagbaja, on Tuesday, described the deadly airstrike that killed 85 people and injured several others in Kaduna State as regrettable.
The army chief, who visited the site of the mishap that has thrown the nation into a sorrowful mood, apologised on behalf of the Nigerian Army to the community, the government, and the people of Kaduna State.
Lagbaja, who visited the victims two days after the accidental strike in the Igabi area of the North-West state, promised to guard against such an occurrence in the conduct of military operations.
“My assessment of that unfortunate incident of Sunday, December 3, 2023, is that it is grave, regrettable. We will do everything possible to prevent such an occurrence from happening again in the conduct of our operations going forward,” he said about one of the country’s deadliest military bombing accidents.
The army chief was accompanied by principal staff officers from the army headquarters and the General Officer Commanding 1 Division and also met with the Dangaladima Zazau, the District Head of Rigasa, Architect Aminu Idris, other leaders, and members of the community.
Eighty-five were killed in an air strike by the Nigerian Army at Tudun Biri village in the Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State, in one of the country’s deadliest military bombing accidents.
The North-West zonal spokesman of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Halima Suleiman, told Channels Television that 66 other victims were also injured in Sunday’s bombing.
She said the fatality figure was gotten from the local authorities after the burial of the victims on Monday.
Confusion had trailed Sunday’s accidental air strike with the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) saying it was not responsible for the bombing.
Hours later, the Kaduna State Government said the Army had taken responsibility for the accidental mistake.
Nigeria’s armed forces often rely on air strikes in their battle against so-called bandit militias in the North-West and North-East of the country, where jihadists have been fighting for more than a decade.
However, such air strikes have not been without controversies and accidental bombings and alleged miscalculations, with innocent Nigerians, including soldiers as casualties.
Earlier in 2023, NAF took responsibility over a fatal airstrike on Kwatiri, a Nasarawa village. At least 39 persons were killed and six others injured in the airstrike that occurred on 24 January.
In 2021, about 20 soldiers on ground were allegedly slain in Mainok, Borno State, when a NAF fighter jet responding to attacks on a military camp by Boko Haram insurgents bombed the military camp based on a wrong coordinate.
Tinubu Orders Probe
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on Tuesday ordered an investigation after the army acknowledged one of its drones accidentally struck Tudun Biri village as residents were celebrating a Muslim festival.
“President Tinubu describes the incident as very unfortunate, disturbing, and painful, expressing indignation and grief over the tragic loss of Nigerian lives,” the presidential spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale said in a statement.
Governor Uba Sani of Kaduna State also ordered a full investigation into Sunday’s incident, reassuring the citizens that their security and protection will be prioritised in the sustained fight against terrorists, bandits, and other criminal elements.
While directing the immediate evacuation of the injured to the Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital for emergency medical attention, the governor disclosed that The Kaduna State Government will be responsible for their treatment and related logistics.
He, however, appealed to the affected community and all citizens of the state to be calm and continue to support the security forces and the state government in the battle against terrorists, bandits, kidnappers, and other criminal elements in the state. (Channels)