Boko Haram took more lives this week, but this time, it was indirectly. In an attempt to target the radical group, the Nigerian air force mistakenly bombed a crowded town, killing more than 50 civilians.
The town of Rann, near the Cameroon border, was filled with people who fled the Islamist militant group. This was just one of the locations sheltering more than 2 million Boko Haram victims. Among those killed were humanitarian workers from the Nigerian Red Cross, and more than 100 more were injured. Doctors Without Borders expect more to die from their injuries.
The limited health-care in Rann leaves only eight medical personnel to treat victims. Despite the location’s tight control by the Nigerian army, emergency program manager Hugues Robert reported two strikes hitting around noon on Tuesday.
“This is not a battlefield…It is a place controlled by government forces,” he said. “It’s not a place where insurgents hide. It doesn’t make sense.”
According to Nigerian Maj. Gen. Lucky Irabor, the strike was accidental and the final toll is still under assessment. He claims pilots struck the town in a fight against the radicals, who moved through that area in the past.
“Unfortunately, the strike was conducted, but it turned out that other civilians were somewhere around the area and they were affected,” he said.
Since they arose in 2009, Boko Haram is responsible for approximately 20,000 deaths. The radical group is one of the ‘world’s bloodiest terrorist groups,’ and is a pledged ally of the Islamic State. The group is known for targeting northern Nigeria and surrounding countries to impose radical Islamic codes.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said the military defeated the group last month, but there are still reports of frequent attacks throughout the region.
While it is still unclear how pilots mistook the town of more than 25,000 people to be a militant group, this is the first time the military acknowledged a deadly mistake in the fight against Boko Haram.
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