A drone of the Nigerian army accidentally killed at least 85 civilians this Sunday, December 10, in a town in the state of Kaduna, in the northwest of the country, those responsible for the emergency services stated.
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on Tuesday ordered the opening of an investigation after the armed forces acknowledged that one of their drones mistakenly attacked the town of Tudun Biri while its residents were celebrating a Muslim holiday.
The army did not provide casualty figures, but residents said 85 people were killed, including women and children.
“The northwest zone office has received information from local authorities that 85 bodies have been buried so far, while the search continues,” the national emergency management agency (NEMA) said in a statement.
This agency pointed out that 66 people were also hospitalized, and those responsible for emergencies are still negotiating with local traditional chiefs to calm the tension and get to the town.
The Nigerian armed forces often use aerial bombardment in their fight against militias operating in the northwest and northeast of the country, the scene of the jihadist conflict for 14 years.
This conflict has killed more than 40,000 people and left two million homeless since 2009.
“President Tinubu described the incident as unfortunate, disturbing, and painful and expressed his anger and sorrow at the tragic loss of Nigerian lives,” the presidency said in a statement.
The military said its drone was carrying out a routine mission and “unintentionally affected members of the community.”
Most of the victims were women, children, and the elderly who were celebrating the Muslim holiday of Mawlid, which commemorates the birth of the Prophet Muhammad.
“I was inside the house when the first bomb fell. (…) We ran to the scene to help those affected, then the second bomb fell,” Idris Dahiru, a resident of the neighborhood, told AFP.