The military high command says it has commenced an investigation on the alleged killing of innocent civilians in airstrikes targeted at terrorists by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) at Mutumji community in Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State.
The Director, Defence Media Operations (DMO), Maj.-Gen. Musa Danmadami, disclosed this in Abuja.
He maintained that the airstrikes were targeted solely at bandits who invaded the area in their hundreds on motorcycles.
Over 60 civilians were reportedly killed in the operation on Sunday December 18.
Danmadami, while responding to questions at a media briefing on an update on military operations conducted in the last three weeks, said the military had set up a board to investigate the matter.
Lamenting the deaths of some soldiers from the ground forces during the operations, he said the number of soldiers killed was over-exaggerated in the media.
He added that the number of civilians killed had not been officially communicated to the military by the Zamfara State government.
He said, “Investigation has been ordered into the operation to ascertain if actually there was collateral damage and equally the number of people that were involved
“So, for now, we cannot give you any specific number as to the level of collateral damage that happened during that incident so as not to jeopardise the investigation that is ongoing.
“The air bombardment was a precision bombardment and a lot of terrorists were equally neutralised during the operations.”
Danmadami said in the last three weeks, soldiers fighting the counter-insurgency war in the North East had killed 103 members of the Boko Haram and Islamic State of West Africa State Province (ISWAP), terrorists in the last three weeks.
He said they also arrested 40 terrorists including four commanders and rescued 30 kidnapped victims.
He said within the period under review, soldiers on internal security operations in the South South part of the country destroyed 57 illegal refineries, 953 cooking ovens, 68 wooden boats, 172 storage tanks and 149 dugout pits.
The army spokesman also said the armed forces, in the last three weeks, eliminated more than 60 terrorists and bandits in the North West and North Central.
He said the troops, who arrested more than 50 terrorists and their collaborators, also rescued 27 kidnap victims in various operations within the period.
He said the troops of Operation Hadarin Daji in the North West had sustained operational activities through fighting patrols, raids and clearance operations in bandits’ enclaves within Katsina, Sokoto, Zamfara and Kaduna states.
He said the troops on December 3, neutralised five terrorists while others fled during fighting patrols at Ungwan Babale and Rafin Sarki in Giwa LGA of Kaduna State.
The defence spokesman said the troops also apprehended a suspected gun runner, who had been on their wanted list, at a filling station while refuelling his car in Jema’a area of the state.
He added that five AK47 rifles, 4,000 rounds of 7.6mm special ammo concealed in a sack, four magazines, teargas canisters and knives were recovered from him. ( Daily Trust)
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