12112019What's Hot:

Death Toll Escalates in Mistaken Bombing of Nigerian Camp


Onlookers waited outside the gates of a hospital in Maiduguri, Nigeria, for people wounded when an air force plane bombed a refugee camp. Credit Stefan Heunis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Deaths from the errant Nigerian aerial bombing of a displaced persons encampment in northeast Nigeria have jumped to 90, the medical charity Doctors Without Borders reported on Friday, nearly double the initial tally. It quoted local residents as saying that as many as 170 people may have been killed.

The updated death toll coincided with news reports from Nigeria that more than 100 members of Boko Haram, the intended target of the Tuesday bombing, had attacked another displaced persons encampment in the area on Thursday.

The Associated Press, in a dispatch from the northern city of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, quoted unidentified witnesses as saying that Nigerian soldiers had battled Boko Haram militants for hours Thursday night. There was no immediate comment from the Nigerian government.

The Nigerian Air Force’s mistaken bombing of the Rann encampment, which houses about 20,000 people near the Cameroon border, was one of the deadliest blunders in the country’s protracted struggle to vanquish Boko Haram, an Islamic extremist group that has plundered and marauded through parts of northern Nigeria for years.

Boko Haram has repeatedly belied assertions by Nigeria’s leaders that it has been crushed.

In an updated statement on the Rann bombing that contained the new death toll, Doctors Without Borders said a single warplane had circled the encampment twice and dropped two bombs into the middle, just as an aid distribution was taking place. Most of the victims were women and children.

“People had sought safety in what they thought was a protected site,” Bruno Jochum, the charity’s general director, said in the statement. “Instead they were bombed by those who were meant to safeguard them.”

President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria has apologized for the attack, but rights groups have raised sharp questions about how such a mistake could have been made.

Human Rights Watch said on Thursday that satellite photographs of the encampment showed destruction from “multiple airdropped munitions” and that the targets had included civilian tents “easily visible from the air.” It has called on Mr. Buhari’s government to compensate families of the victims.

Source: NYT > World

comments powered by HyperComments

More on the topic