Nigeria’s president calls for investigation after 85 civilians killed in drone attack

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Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu on Tuesday called for a thorough investigation into a military drone attack that the state emergency agency in northern Kaduna state said killed at least 85 people at the weekend.

The state’s governor, a religious leader and witnesses told Reuters on Monday that dozens of civilians were killed following the military drone attack that was targeting insurgents and bandits on Sunday night.

The Kaduna State Emergency Management Agency said on Tuesday at least 85 people had died during the attack, giving the first official confirmation of the toll from the weekend incident.

“The Northwest Zonal Office has received details from the local authorities that 85 dead bodies have so far been buried while search is still ongoing,” the agency said.

Tinubu, who is attending the Cop28 Climate Summit in Dubai, said the “the bombing mishap” in a village at Tundun Biri, was “very unfortunate, disturbing, and painful,” his spokesman Ajuri Ngelale said in a statement.

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

The Nigerian Army is yet to comment on the incident but the Air Force has denied being involved in the mission that led to Sunday’s attack.

Nigeria’s military, which is backed by the United States, Britain and other non-Western allies in a long war against Islamist insurgents in the northeast, has also been unleashing deadly aerial assaults for years in other parts of the country.

Kaduna is 163 km (101 miles) from the capital Abuja.

Beyond the war zone in the northeast, the army and air force has been called on to tackle the growing threat in Nigeria’s northwest and central region, including in Kaduna state, posed by armed criminal gangs that spray villages with bullets and carry out mass kidnappings.

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