Military denies killing villagers during counter-insurgency operations in Borno


The military high command has denied killing 20 residents in a recent counter-insurgency operations in Dabar Masara, a border town in the Monguno Local Government Area of Borno State.

Some villagers had alleged that the airstrike by the military killed no fewer than 20 residents in the area on September 26, 2021.

They also said the airstrike occurred in the afternoon when most of the villagers were out either on their farmlands or riverine areas fishing.

But in a statement on Thursday by the Acting Director, Defence Media Operation, Brigadier General Bernard Onyeuko, the military said the operations carried out at the said period were thoroughly done, insisting that no villagers were killed.

The statement was titled, ‘Re-Air strikes killed 20 fishermen in Borno state.’

It read, “The attention of the Defence Headquarters has been drawn to media reports making the rounds in the social media alleging that; the air component of Operation Hadin Kai on Sunday, September 26, 2021, killed 20 fishermen in air strikes at Kwatan Daban Masara general area in the fringes of the Lake Chad. It is therefore important to make clarifications regarding the air interdiction mission conducted in the general area.

“For the records, it is pertinent to state that the air component of Operation Hadin Kai on September 26, 2021, acting on credible actionable intelligence on the activities of terrorists in an identified ISWAP Camp at the said location, conducted air strikes on the target.

“This was after careful Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance missions revealed the activities of ISWAP elements in the location. Consequently, the intelligence gathered was processed and carefully analysed between the period of 19 August and 23 September 2021.

“Persons wearing combat vests and uniforms identified as ISWAP-styled uniforms were seen within the camp. Furthermore, neither women nor children were noticed in or around the camp, just as no fishing activities were seen. Instead, canoes loaded with unidentified items were seen parked but not engaged in any fishing activity, an indication that they were to be ferried to another location.

“Having carefully ascertained that nearby civilian settlements were not in the line of fire and a precision strike would disrupt ISWAP logistics movement and neutralize them; a decision was made to conduct a strike on the ISWAP camp. Although casualty figures could not be ascertained, the strike was verified to be successful in disrupting ISWAP logistics movement and foot soldiers.

“It is important to state that the location is a well-known ISWAP enclave and there is an existing ban on fishing activities within the area. Additionally, the general area is known as a gateway for movement of logistics by ISWAP elements especially from Kirta and Wulgo locations.

“Therefore, the Nigerian Military wishes to state categorically that necessary steps were taken to ensure that the presence of the terrorists was ascertained and the strike was precise and professionally executed.”

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