Scramble to treat wounded after botched Nigeria air strike

2017-01-18 13:30
Picture: AFP

Picture: AFP

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Maiduguri - Scores of wounded people were airlifted on Wednesday to hospital for treatment after a botched air strike on Boko Haram Islamists in Nigeria killed at least 52 civilians and aid workers.

The medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said more than 120 people were wounded on Tuesday in the bombing of a camp in Rann, in the far north of Borno state, the epicentre of the jihadists' insurgency.

Six Nigerian Red Cross workers were among the dead, while 11 others were injured, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The Borno governor Kashim Shettima has ordered public hospitals and doctors in the state capital, Maiduguri, to be on standby to receive casualties.

But there were already reports that some casualty departments were overwhelmed.

Some of the injured were being taken to a unit run by the ICRC at the Borno State Specialist Hospital, which normally treats patients wounded in Boko Haram suicide and bomb attacks.

Shettima said three hospitals had been "all placed on standby in readiness to carry out emergency treatment", and that the most critically injured people were being evacuated first from Rann by helicopter.

Aid agencies shocked 

Accidental bombings have occurred before in the conflict, which began in 2009 and has left at least 20 000 dead and made more than 2.6 million others homeless.

In March 2014, an air force jet killed five and wounded several others when it mistakenly bombed a village in the Konduga area of Borno.

In January that year, the convoy of a Nigerian senator was fired on, after pilots mistook his six-vehicle convoy under police and military escort for Boko Haram fighters.

Senior military commanders in charge of the fight against Boko Haram called the latest bombing "a mistake" and maintained that humanitarian workers were not targeted directly.

Major General Lucky Irabor, who heads the counter-insurgency operation, said the air force jet had been given the coordinates of insurgents in the flashpoint Kala-Balge area but hit Rann instead.

He blamed the error on "the fog of war".

The aid workers were distributing food at the military-run camp housing tens of thousands of people. Many are suffering from severe malnutrition and acute food shortages because of the conflict.

Jean-Clement Cabrol, the director of operations for MSF, called the attack "shocking and unacceptable". "The safety of civilians must be respected," he said.

Toby Lanzer, the UN humanitarian co-rdinator for the Sahel region, told AFP: "Never in my 20 years of work in crisis setting have I seen such an incident.

"For aid agencies and their staff tragedy moves us to engage and respond in support of survivors and the communities on the ground acting as first responders."

Local and international aid agencies have until recently been unable to get to Rann because of bad roads and insecurity in the remote region around Lake Chad.

The military announced last month it has ousted Boko Haram from its camps in Sambisa Forest, in southern Borno, sending fighters north.

Strained ties 

Nigeria's military has announced an investigation into what happened. The Daily Trust newspaper reported that clearly marked ICRC tents were bombed, without quoting sources.

MSF said none of its staff was injured or killed but disclosed that three employees of a Cameroonian firm it hired to provide water and sanitation services were killed.

One aid worker told AFP colleagues were "stunned" at what happened and suggested civilians were likely to have been caught up in previous bombing raids in the remote region.

"I'm sure it (the bombing in Rann) is an accident but why would they (the Nigerian military) bomb a place that they're guarding?" the aid worker said on condition of anonymity.

Ties have been strained between humanitarian agencies and the Nigerian authorities, who have accused some aid organisations of exaggerating the food crisis triggered by the insurgency.

In December, Save the Children said 4.7 million people in the northeast needed food assistance and some 400 000 children were at imminent risk of starvation.

The presidency called some of the claims "hyperbolic" while the Borno state governor recently accused some aid agencies of profiting from the crisis.

Read more on:    msf  |  boko haram  |  nigeria  |  west africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Pack theory: fact or fiction?

Do you need to be the "alpha" to have an obedient dog?

 
 

Paws

Perfect dog-walking 1: Why dogs pull on the lead
SA stats: The role of pets in families
The top 6 poisonous foods for your pet
Does your dog have separation anxiety?
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.