The Nigerian Air Force (NAF)
, yesterday said it is not aware of any civilian casualties in Niger State as a result of an aerial offensive against bandits in Genu Community.
This denial by the service followed the trending stories that the Nigerian Air Force aerial offensive in Niger State hits wrong target killing wedding guests and wounding several others in in Rijau LGA of Niger state
The NAF fighter jet which was scrambled from a military base in Katsina State, was reported to have allegedly bombed
a location of a wedding party in an adjoining village.
“We saw the small aircraft dropping bombs from afar on the location of fleeing bandits and one of the explosives hit a wedding event in Argida Village.
“Two villagers were also killed, unfortunately. We gathered that several others, who were guests at the wedding feast, sustained injuries,” eye witness said.
However, the Director of Public Relation and Information, Nigerian Air Force, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet while responding to the trending story in a chat with one of the online news portals
said the service has no record of unintended casualties apart from the bandits.
He explained that the Air Force got credible information about the location of the bandits and was able to kill them.
While Confirming the bombardment in Niger State, Gabkwet said: “We undertook a mission to the northern part of Genu after receiving information that scores of bandits were gathered around the area with bikes and vehicles.
“We found out it was very credible information, so our aircraft were dispatched to the area.
“We have not had any complaints from anywhere other than what we are reading on papers. All we know is, through the efforts of our pilot and preciseness of their strikes, those bandits were neutralised.
“We were able to hit our target which is important so that people can go about their lives in peace and go about their business without being threatened or put in harm’s way.”
The NAF Spokesperson further raised the following questions, “If indeed a wedding party was hit, the question Nigerians should be asking is, ‘Why would a wedding party be held in a forested area with high concentration of banditry activities?
“It is clear that recent coordinated activities of the NAF, alongside the Nigerian Army and other security agencies are yielding the expected result and obviously, some people are out to discredit these efforts. But be rest assured that we will not succumb to any blackmail. The NAF under the leadership of the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, shall continue to hit the locations of these criminals until we flush them out of the entire area and peace and security is fully restored”.
Sources said that, this is not the first time military aircraft belonging to the Nigerian Air Force is hitting wrong target with resultant fatalities.
Only recently, the Nigerian Air Force aircraft was reported to had allegedly bombed military truck and killed several soldiers, while providing close air support to ground troops during Boko Haram attack in Mainok, Borno state.
Recall that the Nigerian Air Force “mistakenly” bombed a village in Damboa LGA of Borno, killing 17 people including women and children.
A similar incident occurred in January 2017 when the NAF Aircraft dropped bombs in another wrong location killing more than 100 internally displaced persons (IDPs) during the accidental bombing.