Amnesty International: Nigerian air force killed 35 in December attack on villages

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The Nigerian air force killed at least 35 people in attacks on villages in Adamawa state in December, rights group Amnesty International said on Tuesday.

On 4 December, air force fighter jets fired rockets at villages to deter communal clashes as a cycle of violence and revenge attacks gripped Adamawa state, Amnesty said in its report.

The report indicates that locals of the villages said they attempted to flee the attacks but were fired upon by a fighter jet and military helicopter, at the same time as hundreds of herdsmen took part in a revenge attack on the communities for earlier killings.

“Launching air raids is not a legitimate law enforcement method by anyone’s standard,” Amnesty’s country director for Nigeria Osai Ojigho, said in the report.

“Such reckless use of deadly force is unlawful, outrageous and lays bare the Nigerian military’s shocking disregard for the lives of those it supposedly exists to protect,” she said.

Air Force spokesman Olatokunbo Adesanya denied the military had bombed any locations in the region or fired shots targeting people but did admit troops had opened fire to dissuade looters and vandals. Adesanya said he was unaware of any human casualties.

Burned husks of vehicles and blackened houses reduced in parts to rubble were shown in an accompanying video from Amnesty. Satellite images depicted large swathes of settlements ravaged by fire.

Eighty-six people died, with the Nigerian air force responsible for at least 35 deaths, and some 3,000 homes were destroyed in the five villages visited, said Amnesty.

In January 2017, a Nigerian Air Force jet mistakenly bombed an IDP camp near the Cameroonian border in Rann, Borno State. It later said it had believed the area was a Boko Haram encampment.

The bombing left at least 115 people dead, including six Red Cross aid workers, and left more than 100 injured.

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