Contrary to the casualty figures in the public domain following Tuesday’s accidental bombing of an internally Displaced Persons, IDP, camp in Borno State, the chairman of Kala Balge Local Government Area, where the accident occurred, Babagana Malarima, has said that his people buried 234 persons killed in the airstrike.
Malarima disclosed this on Friday when the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, visited to condole with the people of Rann, whose IDPs camp was the target of an accidental aerial bombardment by the Nigerian Air Force.
The Defence Headquarters has in a statement on Sunday said the focus now should be how to honour the dead and not the number of those killed in the unintentional military air strike.
“The most important thing is that we are saddened by the incident. It’s an operational error and we are sorry about it. It can happen in operations. We pray it doesn’t happen again.”
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) had also on Friday said the death toll from the accidental airstrike had risen to 90, although it claimed that could climb as high as 170.
The accidental bombing took place on Tuesday near the border with Cameroon, where the military engaged in what it called its final push against Boko Haram.The air force was said to be targeting a gathering of the Boko Haram terrorist group, when it mistakenly hit the IDPs camp, killing and injuring many persons, including people who had fled their homes due to terror attacks and sought refuge at the camp as well as local and foreign humanitarian aid workers.
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has asked the Nigerian Government to compensate the victims. A senior researcher at the HRW in Nigeria, Mausi Segun, said that “prompt, adequate and effective compensation” was needed, even though there was no evidence of a willful attack on the camp.
He added that the victims should not be denied redress merely because the government decided the bombing was accidental.