Drone strike mistake kills at least 85 civilians

TUDUN BIRI, NG – A tragic misstep by the Nigerian military resulted in the death of 85 civilians in a drone strike on Sunday. The incident occurred in the village of Tudun Biri, located in Kaduna state, during a religious gathering.

The drone, which was supposed to target terrorists and bandits, instead struck a crowd of people celebrating a Muslim holiday. The casualties, as confirmed by Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), included women, children, and the elderly, with at least 66 more people injured.

In response to the tragedy, Nigerian President Bola Tinubu has demanded an exhaustive investigation. The Nigerian military, in its ongoing fight against extremism and rebellion, often conducts air raids that inadvertently harm civilians.

Civilians in Nigeria’s northern region have been caught in the middle of conflicts between the military and rebel groups for more than a decade. Atiku Abubakar, the former vice president and current main opposition presidential candidate, has voiced his concern over the escalating civilian death toll from inaccurate airstrikes.

Maj. Gen. Edward Buba, a spokesperson for Nigeria’s Defense Headquarters, admitted the difficulty of differentiating between civilians and terrorists, as the latter often blend in with civilian populations. This incident is not isolated, with a similar attack in January killing 39 civilians in Nasarawa state, and dozens more killed in Zamfara state in December 2022.

According to Lagos-based security firm SBM Intelligence, about 400 civilians have lost their lives in airstrikes intended for armed groups since 2017.