Military launches probe on killings of civilians in Zamfara airstrike

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The military high command has launched an investigation on the alleged killing of innocent civilians last Sunday in airstrikes targeted at terrorists by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) at Mutumji community in Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State.

The Director of Defence Media Operations (DMO), Major General Musa Danmadami, who disclosed this in Abuja on Thursday, insisted that the airstrikes were targeted solely at bandits who invaded the area in their hundreds on motorcycles.

The Nigerian News gathered that over 60 civilians were reportedly killed in the operation.

Speaking at a media briefing on an update on military operations conducted in the last three weeks, Danmadami said the military had set up a board to investigate the matter.

While lamenting the deaths of some soldiers from the ground forces during the operations, the director 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.

According to him, “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 revealed that in the last three weeks, soldiers fighting the counter-insurgency war in the Northeast had killed 103 members of the Boko Haram and Islamic State of West Africa State Province (ISWAP), while 40 terrorists including four commanders have also been arrested and 30 kidnapped victims rescued.

He noted that within the period under review, soldiers on internal security operations in the Southern part of the country destroyed 57 illegal refineries, 953 cooking ovens, 68 wooden boats, 172 storage tanks and 149 dugout pits, while the armed forces have also eliminated over 60 terrorists and bandits in the Northwest and North Central in the last three weeks.

Danmadi stated that the troops, who arrested over 50 terrorists and their collaborators, also rescued 27 kidnap victims in various operations within the period.

He further said that the troops of Operation Hadarin Daji in the Northwest 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 Local Government Area of Kaduna State.

The defence spokesman said the troops also arrested 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, adding 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.

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