Nigeria investigates claim air strike killed civilians

Nigeria Airforce jet /Getty Images

Nigeria’s air force said Thursday it was investigating reports that civilians were ‘erroneously killed’ in airstrikes on Boko Haram jihadists in northern Yobe state.

Residents of Buhari village in Yunusari district near the border with Niger told AFP that 10 people were killed and at least 19 injured during airstrikes on Wednesday.

The air force did not confirm or deny the alleged death toll.

“Reports reaching (the) Nigerian Air Force Headquarters alleged that some civilians were erroneously killed while others were injured,” spokesman Edward Gabkwet said in a statement.

According to initial information, he said, the aircraft was “not carrying bombs”.

But “a board of inquiry has been set up to thoroughly investigate the circumstances of the incident,” he said.

Several residents said that three fighter jets flew over the village and one of them opened fire.

“There was an airstrike by a military jet on Buhari village yesterday which left some casualties,” Alhaji Bukar Gaji, a local politician said.

“We buried 10 people… and 22 were taken to the general hospital in (nearby) Geidam town,” resident Grema Zanna said.

Another resident, Masida Kyari, who gave a similar death toll said “three jets flew over the village and one of them opened fire.”

Nigeria has been fighting a 12-year-old jihadist insurrection in the northeast that has killed more than 40,000 people and displaced nearly two million from their homes.

There have been at least two previous incidents of civilians killed in airstrikes.