100 killed after refugee camp bombed in botched raid

A FIGHTER jet has mistakenly killed more than 100 innocent civilians and aid workers after bombing a refugee camp instead of Boko Haram extremists.

The Nigerian military has admitted to the catastrophic attack on a camp in the northeastern town Rann, saying it launched an operation targeting the terror group, but it "unfortunately" affected civilians, along with members of Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) and the Red Cross.

"This large-scale attack on vulnerable people who have already fled from extreme violence is shocking and unacceptable," MSF director of operations, Jean-Clement Cabrol, said in a statement. "The safety of civilians must be respected."

A Borno state official, who was helping to coordinate the evacuation of wounded from the remote area by helicopters, said more than 100 refugees and aid workers were among the dead.

Medecins Sans Frontiers said its team based in Rann counted 52 bodies and was treating 120 wounded. The International Committee for the Red Cross said six workers with the Nigerian Red Cross were among the dead and 13 were wounded.

"They were part of a team that had brought in desperately needed food for over 25,000 displaced persons," spokesman Jason Straziuso said in a statement from Nairobi, Kenya.

Major General Lucky Irabor, who is the theater commander for counterinsurgency operations in northeast Nigeria, said he ordered the mission based on information that Boko Haram insurgents were gathering in the area, along with geographic coordinates. It was too early to say if a tactical error was made, he said, adding that the bombing would be investigated.

This is believed to be the first time Nigeria's military has admitted to making such a mistake, in a region where villagers have in the past reported civilian casualties in the near-daily bombings targeting Islamic militants.

Some of the schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014 and freed last year have said three of their classmates were killed by air force bombardments, according to the freed girls' parents.

Of the nearly 300 schoolgirls who were abducted, 196 remain missing.

The bombings have helped drive Boko Haram out of many towns and villages and, according to Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari, the insurgents' last stronghold in the Sambisa Forest last month.

Boko Haram's 7-year-old Islamic uprising has killed more than 20,000 people and forced 2.6 million from their homes, creating the continent's worst humanitarian crisis, with the United Nations warning some 5.1 million people face starvation.

Topics:  boko haram editors picks nigeria

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