The Nigerian military has debunked reports making the rounds that a fighter jet belonging to Nigerian Air Force (NAF), killed about 17 civilians in the airstrikes conducted by the Air Task Force of the Operation Lafiya Dole at Shokotoko village in Damboa Local Government Area of Borno state.
The military insisted every precaution was taken to avoid collateral damages adding that “credible intelligence reports” confirmed that the target location was occupied solely by Boko Haram fighters.
Reports emerged during the week that no fewer than 17 civilians were killed in the air raid as the Nigerian Military repelled an attack by the Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP).
But in a statement made available to journalists by the Coordinator Defence Media Operations, Maj.- Gen. John Enenche, the military said, the operation which was conducted on the night of 9 April and early hours of 10 April 2020, was based on credible intelligence reports obtained from land forces and other security agencies as well as reliable, vetted informants, which confirmed that the target location was occupied solely by Boko Haram Terrorists.
The statement said, “the attack helicopter that executed the mission was accompanied by an Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft to ensure proper targeting for avoidance of collateral damage.
“Besides, it must be noted that, Nigerian Air Force (NAF) pilots, by training and in line with extant Rules of Engagement (ROEs) for the operation, do not attack any location if it is observed that non-combatants, especially women and children, are present. In such cases, the pilots would rather return to base with their munitions unexpended. Consequently, on the strength of the foregoing, the location was considered a legitimate target.
“Nevertheless, to allay public concerns occasioned by the aforementioned media reports, an investigation is being carried out and subsequent actions will be taken in line with extant regulations and best practices, while remaining accountable to the Nigerian people.”