Nigerian Christian refugees killed in air strike error

refugees bombed
Refugee camp bombed in northeast Nigeria. (PHOTO: MSF)

Originally published in Anglican Communion News Service

The Nigerian air force has mistakenly attacked a refugee camp in northeast Nigeria which was providing refuge to Christians displaced by Boko Haram fighters. The international medical humanitarian organisation, Doctors Without Borders (MSF), says 52 people were killed and at least 120 wounded. A local official has been quoted as saying more than 100 died. The incident, in Rann, near the border with Cameroon, happened as Nigerian aircraft took park in a mission against Boko Haram extremists.

Dr Jean-Clément Cabrol, MSF director of operations said:

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“This large-scale attack on vulnerable people, who have already fled from extreme violence is shocking and unacceptable. The safety of civilians must be respected. We are urgently calling on all parties to ensure the facilitation of medical evacuations by air or road for survivors who are in need of emergency care.”

Wounded and evacuated patients
MSF medical teams are providing first aid to the wounded and the organisation’s medical and surgical teams in the region are preparing to treat evacuated patients.

The International Committee for the Red Cross said six workers with the Nigerian Red Cross were among the dead and 13 were wounded. A spokesman said: “They were part of a team that had brought in desperately needed food for over 25 000 displaced persons.”

President Muhammadu Buhari whose army is fighting Boko Haram expressed dismay and urged calm. It is thought to be the first time Nigeria’s military has admitted to making such a mistake.

Villagers have previously reported civilian casualties in the near-daily bombings targeting the Islamic militants. Boko Haram has killed more than twenty thousand people and forced more than two-and-a-half million from their homes in a campaign of violence over the past seven years.

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