Armed forces have distanced themselves from the killing of fishermen in Borno State.
According to AFP, “20 fishermen” were killed accidentally by a jet aircraft.
In its reaction, the Defence Headquarters said troops only neutralised Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists who had used thick foliage to conceal their nefarious activities in the Lake Chad region of Borno.
Acting director of Defence Media Operations, Brig.-Gen. Benard Onyeuko, said the terrorists were only dressed as fishermen with canoes loaded with unidentified items.
Yet they were observed not engaging in any fishing activity, but loading their canoes with unidentified items to be transported elsewhere.
According to the statement,
“The attention of the Defence Headquarters has been drawn to misguided media reports trending in the social media alleging that OPHK troops killed 20 Fishermen in an Air Strike in Kwatan Daban Masara on Sunday 26 Sep 21, around the Lake Tchad area of North East Nigeria. “Contrary to the report, the interdiction targeted and neutralised clearly identified ISWAP terrorists and not fishermen. It is thus pertinent to make clarifications on the air interdiction recently conducted in the general area by OPHK. “Responding to credible Intelligence report on the movement and operation of Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists messed up within the forested area, thorough analysis of the intelligence report was conducted between 19 August and 23 September 2021. “Special Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaisance (ISR) mission was also carried out, which confirmed the area as the terrorists’ staging area. Further confirmatory reconnaissance revealed that the observed movements and activities were of ISWAP, dressed in the usual ISWAP-styled uniform.”
Onyeuko said that it was important to emphasize that the ban on fishing activities within that axis remains in effect.
He said that troops made sure not to place civilian settlements along the lines of fire and strikes, in order to avoid collateral damage that could result from air attacks.