The Nigerian Defence Headquarters has said that it is investigating the alleged killing of innocent civilians during an air strike last Sunday, targeted at terrorists who converged on Mutumji Community in Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State in northern Nigeria.The Director, Defence Media Operations (DMO), Maj-Gen. Musa Danmadami, told journalists during a media briefing in Abuja that the air strike was targeted solely at bandits, who invaded the area in their hundreds on motorcycles.
Speaking on military operations conducted in the last three weeks in northern Nigeria, Danmadami said the military high command had set up a board to investigate the alleged killings of innocent civilians during the air strike carried out by the air component of the operations.
The report by Nigeria’s Sun newspaper, said that Danmadami, who lamented the death of some soldiers from the ground forces during the operations, stated that the number of soldiers killed in the operations was exaggerated in the media.
According to him, while the number of civilians alleged to have been killed during the operation, the Zamfara State government has not officially communicated the number of civilian casualties to the military.
“The operation was conducted successfully and a lot of terrorists were killed in the air strike. It was a combined operation between the ground forces and the air component. Unfortunately, during the ground forces operations, we lost some soldiers, but the number of civilian casualties and collateral damage cannot be confirmed.
“The Zamfara State government has not come out to give us any figure as far as that incident is concerned. 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 investigations that are ongoing. The air bombardment was precision bombardment and a lot of terrorists were equally neutralised during the operations,” the report quoted the military officer as saying.
“She assured that it is the responsibility of the military to protect life and properties of Nigerians and not to start killing them. “It is not our role to damage properties of innocent citizens of this country”.