The Soft Words of Harsh Mistakes
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Nigerian President Bola Tinubu ordered an investigation into an accidental drone strike earlier this week that killed at least 85 people in northern Nigeria, an incident that prompted calls for accountability from the country’s military over errant bombings, NPR reported.
On Sunday, an armed drone hit villagers who had gathered in the rural town of Tudun Biri to celebrate the birthday of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. The fatalities included children and the elderly, with Amnesty International saying that the death toll topped 120 people, according to Voice of America.
The military acknowledged the incident, explaining that army officers incorrectly profiled the villagers as alleged militants and insurgents that have plagued much of northern and central Nigeria in recent years.
The head of the Nigerian army, Lt. Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, called the strike “regrettable,” adding that the military will “do everything possible (to) prevent such an occurrence from happening again.”
Tinubu pledged a “thorough and full-fledged investigation into the incident,” which he described as a “bombing mishap.”
Even so, some Nigerians and human rights groups complained that the government has failed to hold anyone accountable for similar attacks in the past.
In January, an army airstrike killed 39 people in the central state of Nasarawa. The Nigerian air force acknowledged its responsibility five months later but has not elaborated on whether anyone has been held accountable.
In 2017, the air force bombed a refugee camp in the northeastern town of Rann in Borno state, killing more than 100 people, including aid workers.
The air force attributed the airstrike to incorrect coordinates, but has not ever said whether any officers were prosecuted.