Nigeria: Tracking Airstrikes Conducted by Nigerian Military Resulting in Civilian Fatalities

“The victims of the strike were mostly children and women celebrating the Maulud (birthday of Prophet Muhammad) in the area.”The death toll from Sunday’s military drone airstrike on civilians in Tudun Biri, a community in Igabi Local Government area of Kaduna State has risen.

The victims of the strike are mostly children and women celebrating the Maulud (birthday of Prophet Muhammad), residents told PREMIUM TIMES.

One of the residents, Garba Haruna, earlier told PREMIUM TIMES that over 29 bodies were recovered from the attack which occurred late Sunday and left many other victims missing as of Monday morning.

The North-west zonal spokesperson of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Halima Suleiman, told Channels Television that 85 people were buried on Monday by locals following the attack.

The official said 66 others were injured in the drone attack.

President Bola Tinubu, through one of his media aides, Ajuri Ngelale, has sympathised with the families of victims, the people and the government of Kaduna State over the bombing incident.

“The president directed a thorough and full-fledged investigation into the incident and calls for calm while the authorities look diligently into the mishap,” Mr Ngelale said.

The Kaduna attack is another instance in a series of similar airstrikes on civilians by the Nigerian military in recent years.


The Kaduna attack was the second military airstrike on civilian populace in the north of the country this year.

Like the attack in Nasarawa State in January, it was believed to be carried out by a drone. The police confirmed that at least 27 herders, mainly ethnic Fulani, were killed in Nasarawa incident.

However, Fulani groups claim 40 people were killed and scores of other civilians were injured.

Most of those killed were herders returning from Benue State, after reclaiming their livestock seized by the Benue State Government.

The police in Nasarawa said preliminary investigation revealed that the pastoralists had gone to Benue to pay fines for the release of their cattle impounded by the Benue Livestock Guards, who were implementing the state’s anti-open grazing before they were killed by a drone at a border community.

“While they were loading some of the cows into vehicles in Kwatiri village, a border community between Benue and Nasarawa, something like a drone or an aircraft hovered in the air and shelled them,” the police spokesperson in Nasarawa, Ramhan Nansel, said.

Following the Nasarawa attack, the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Alice Nderitu, said the worsening security situation in Nigeria is characterised by the politicisation of the movement of livestock for grazing, and increasing divisions among communities, including stigmatisation along religious and ethnic lines.

Ms Nderitu expressed concern over worsening security in Nigeria while urging the authorities to ensure counter-terrorism operations are conducted in line with international human rights and humanitarian law.

“These dynamics of targeting communities along identity lines, if unaddressed, risk further fuelling inter-communal tensions, recruitment by armed groups and retaliatory attacks, with an obvious impact on civilians,” she said in January.


Another military airstrike claimed scores of civilian lives in December 2022 while soldiers were repelling attacks by non-state actors on some communities in the Dansadau District of Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State.

Residents said armed bandits had targeted Malele, Yan Sawayu, Yan Awaki Maigoge, and Ruwan Tofa communities before the attacks were foiled by the air raids which forced the rampaging gunmen to flee into the neighbouring Mutunji community for safety.

However, the terrorists were not the only victims of the air raid in Mutunji. Civilians, including women and children, were also killed. The community leader of Mutunji, Umar Mutunji, put the civilian casualties at over 70.

The Zamfara State government confirmed the strike claimed several lives in the Mutumji community, but did not state the number of casualties from the operations.

“The governor was saddened to hear the latest development when the Nigeria Air Force was out to eliminate a marauding group of bandits which, unfortunately, caught several civilians leaving behind a mixture of casualties involving both the bandits and several civilians,” the governor was quoted in a statement by his media aide, Zailani Bappa, in December last year.


In July 2022, at least six people were reported killed by an Air Force jet in the Kunkunna community of Safana Local Government of Katsina State. Like in Zamfara, the victims of the Katsina attack, were hit by bombs targeted at bandits

A lawmaker representing the Safana constituency at the Katsina State House of Assembly, AbdulJalal Runka, confirmed the accident, saying that only one woman was killed by the bomb. He said 14 other people injured in the attack were being treated at a hospital.

“What happened is that it was that jet (Air Force fighter jet) that released the bomb there and there were casualties, 14 people were affected and they were quickly taken to the hospital,” he said.

Mr Runka said eight persons were admitted at the Umaru Musa Yar’adu’a University Teaching Hospital (formerly Federal Medical Centre Katsina).


In April 2022, six children were killed when a Nigerian Air Force jet bombed their residence in Kurebe, Shiroro Local Government of the state. Ironically, the parents of two of the six children who were killed in the airstrike were killed by bandits in 2020.

Their families were left with the trauma of losing their loved ones to both state and non-state actors.

Salis Sabo, the spokesperson of the Coalition of Shiroro Association (COSA), said the incident happened on the morning of Wednesday 13 April, as the children were returning from a motorised borehole in the community where they had gone to fetch water.

“The two other children who lost their lives in the incidents have for long lost their parents. One of them is a daughter of the late Malam Isah Kurebe and the other is a daughter of the late Malam Adamu Kurebe, who was killed by the terrorists,” Mr Sabo told PREMIUM TIMES last year.


In January 2017, the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) also known as Doctors Without Borders, said at least 52 people were killed after a Nigerian fighter jet ‘accidentally’ dropped a bomb on an internally displaced persons, IDP, camp in Rann, headquarters of Kala-Balge local government area, Borno State.

The international humanitarian organisation, whose officials were present at the Rann camp when the incident occurred, said another 120 people were injured from the incident.

Following the attack, Jean-Clément Cabrol, the MSF’s Director of Operations, said, “This large-scale attack on vulnerable people who have already fled from extreme violence is shocking and unacceptable. The safety of civilians must be respected. We are urgently calling on all parties to ensure bomb victims, the facilitation of medical evacuations by air or road for survivors while in need of emergency care.”

Since 2017, military airstrikes on civilians have continued and the outcome of the investigations into them has never been published.

The Defence spokesperson, Bolaji Kazzem, said he was in a meeting and asked our reporter to send a text message, but he has yet to respond.

The spokesperson of the army, Onyema Nwachukwu, did not respond to phone calls and text messages to comment on the incidents.

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