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Army drone kills dozens of Maulud celebrants in Kaduna

  • Second bomb killed more people during rescue – Survivors

  • We buried 94, some mutilated, conveyed 66 to hospital – Residents

  • JNI, Fityanu, community leaders seek compensation

  • Incident unfortunate – Military, Kaduna govt

 

Over 90 villagers of Tudun Biri in Rigasa District of Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State were killed Sunday night when a drone of the Nigerian Army bombed a gathering of residents who were celebrating Maulud.

Residents said the incident, which occurred around 9pm on Sunday, also left over 60 people injured.

The military had since owned up to the bombing but failed to give more details, insisting that the statement issued by the Kaduna State government suffices for now.

Also, there were no official figures in respect to the number of people killed or those that sustained injuries as both the military high command and the Kaduna State government were silent on that.

Daily Trust reports that many of the injured, including women and children have been evacuated to Barau Dikko General Hospital in Kaduna for treatment.

Community and religious leaders described the incident as “harrowing, painful,” and frowned at repeated cases of military aircraft killing innocent people.

Survivors of the attack said about 93 bodies, some mutilated, were buried as of Monday evening.

Before the latest incident attributed to the Nigerian Army, Daily Trust had documented 15 other air strikes on the civilian population by security operatives, especially by the Nigeria Air Force, between 2014 and 2023, that led to the death of dozens of people.

The aerial bombardments took place in Borno, Yobe, Niger, Zamfara, Katsina, Nasarawa and Kaduna states.

‘We packed corpses in bags’

Liman Tudun Biri, a community leader, told Daily Trust that mutilated bodies were concealed in bags and buried. He narrated a heart-breaking incident where a man lost his entire family except an infant who miraculously survived the attack.

“We buried 93 people including women and children while mutilated bodies were concealed in bags and buried separately,” he said.

Earlier, a survivor, Bello Shehu Gara said before conveying the injured to the hospital in the morning, they had counted over 74 bodies while remains of others were being scouted.

“We evacuated 66 injured persons to Barau Dikko hospital,” he said.

Gara recalled the celebration turning tragic when a plane on surveillance dropped a bomb on them.

“We saw many people injured and calling for help. We decided to return to rescue them, but the plane dropped another bomb, killing many on the spot. The rest of us ran for our lives.”

He noted that the community had been organising Maulud in the area for many years.

Ibrahim Liman, another resident, said many villagers, especially women and children were fleeing the surrounding communities for fear of further attacks.

He said in the last 20 years, the community has celebrated Maulud and expressed disappointment that the Nigerian Army will mistake them for terrorists.

“People are angry, many people are leaving the community because there are fears that the attack was deliberate,” he said.

Daily Trust reports that the incident is coming almost a year after a drone of the Nigerian Air Force killed about 38 Fulani herders in the Rukubi community of Doma Local Government Area of Nasarawa State.

The herders were killed while returning from Makurdi, the Benue State capital, where they went to retrieve over 1,000 cows seized by the Benue Livestock Guards. The Nigerian Air Force had denied responsibility in the attack but five months later claimed the herders were terrorists.

 

Army claims responsibility for attack

The Kaduna State government on Monday said the Nigerian Army had claimed responsibility for what it described as the “unfortunate incident.” The state’s overseeing Commissioner, Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan in a statement shortly after an emergency closed-door meeting with heads of security agencies, religious and community leaders said that the state government had received briefings on the incident.

Meanwhile, in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents last night, the Nigerian Army said there was no need to make further comments since the Kaduna State government had already spoken.

The army spokesman, Onyema Nwachukwu, a Brigadier-General, directed Daily Trust to go with the earlier statement issued by the state government.

“The state government has already spoken, kindly go with that. There is no need to speak again since there is an existing position,” he told one of our correspondents via telephone.

In its earlier statement, the Kaduna State government after a meeting presided over by the Deputy Governor, Dr Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe, which had in attendance heads of security agencies, religious and traditional leaders, said the Nigerian Army had explained the circumstances, which led to the unfortunate and unintended attack.

“The General Officer Commanding One Division Nigerian Army, Major VU Okoro explained that the Nigerian Army was on a routine mission against terrorists but inadvertently affected members of the community,” the statement read in part.

It further stated that the deputy governor at the end of the closed door meeting conveyed condolences of the government and people of Kaduna State to the families that lost their loved ones.

 

Survivors receive treatment at Barau Dikko Hospital

Daily Trust correspondent visited Barau Dikko Hospital in Kaduna where he saw many of the injured victims of the attack being attended to by healthcare providers. Some of the victims were seen on the floor at the emergency room.

Ashiru Ibrahim, who rushed two of his daughters to the hospital, said the airstrike had killed most of the villagers.

He said his sister Aisha, with two of her children and his uncle had been killed in the air strike.

“Luckily for me, I was inside the house when I heard the sound of the air strike. As I rushed out, I saw many dead bodies littered on the ground. My sister Aisha and her two children died, my uncle too was killed on the spot.

“Two of my daughters, Firdausi and Sadiya, have been brought to the hospital for treatment,” he said.

Hauwa Ibrahim, another survivor, said they were gathered at the venue of the celebration when items fell from the sky, killing many and injuring others.

“We still don’t understand what happened. We only gathered at the venue when something fell on us, many died but me and my grandchildren were injured,” she said.

Another survivor told our correspondent that they assisted over 48 injured victims to the hospital.

 

Victims deserve compensation- Community leader

Community and religious leaders in Kaduna are demanding that the Nigerian government offer compensation and support to families of the deceased and those who suffered injury in the incident.

The District Head of Rigasa, Architect Aminu Idris expressed shock over the incident.

He said his people were in pain and also appealed to the government to reach out to the affected victims and offer them compensation.

 

JNI, Fitiyanul Islam speak

The Kaduna State chapters of Jama’atul Nasril Islam and Fitiyanul Islam on Monday consoled the victims and the Kaduna State government over the incident.

The Kaduna State Chairman of JNI, Professor Muhammad Shafi’u Abdullahi, said, “Not less than 50 people were killed in that incident. It was really an unfortunate incident. At the meeting, we were able to advise the government, especially the military on their operations.

“It has been happening in some states so it shouldn’t be repeated state by state, if not, people may have different interpretations. Such operations should be thoroughly done. We advised the security agencies against reoccurrence,” he said.

Kaduna State Chairman of Fityanul Islam, Sheikh Rabiu Abdullahi described the incident as destined to happen and condoled the families of the deceased and injured.

“We also hope that the state government will foot the bills of the injured as promised,” he said.

He said “Fighter jets are owned by the government and the government claimed it was a mistake that happened. We agree that the victims were not the target but it happened. So we caution the government to always be careful each time they want to carry out such operations to avoid further recurrence.”

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