By Chimezie Godfrey
The Defence Headquarters Abuja has urged Nigerians to disregard media reports alleging that the “Air Component of Operation Hadin Kai killed 20 fishermen in air strikes in Borno State.
The Director, Defence Media Operations, Brigadier General Bernard Onyeuko in a statement states that the troops acted on credible actionable intelligence on the activities of terrorists in an identified ISWAP Camp at the said location, and conducted air strikes on the target.
He therefore stressed that neither women nor children were noticed in or around the camp, just as no fishing activities were seen.
He said,”The attention of the Defence Headquarters has been drawn to media reports making rounds in social media alleging that; the “Air Component of Operation HADIN KAI on Sunday 26 September 2021, killed 20 Fishermen in air strikes at Kwatan Daban Masara general area in the fringes of the Lake Tchad. It is therefore important to make clarifications regarding the air interdiction mission conducted in the general area.
“For the records, it is pertinent to state that the Air Component of Operation HADIN KAI on 26 September 2021, acting on credible actionable intelligence on the activities of terrorists in an identified ISWAP Camp at the said location, conducted air strikes on the target. This was after careful Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance missions revealed the activities of ISWAP elements in the location.
“Consequently, the intelligence gathered was processed and carefully analyzed between the period of 19 August and 23 September 2021. Persons wearing combat vests and uniforms identified as ISWAP-styled uniforms were seen within the camp.
“Furthermore, neither women nor children were noticed in or around the camp, just as no fishing activities were seen. Instead, canoes loaded with unidentified items were seen parked but not engaged in any fishing activity, an indication that they were to be ferried to another location.
“Having carefully ascertained that nearby civilian settlements were not in the line of fire and a precision strike would disrupt ISWAP logistics movement and neutralize them; a decision was made to conduct a strike on the ISWAP camp.
“Although casualty figures could not be ascertained, the strike was verified to be successful in disrupting ISWAP logistics movement and foot soldiers.”
Gen. Onyeuko pointed out that the location is a well-known ISWAP enclave and there is an existing ban on fishing activities within the area. Additionally, the general area is known as a gateway for movement of logistics by ISWAP elements especially from Kirta and Wulgo locations.
According to him, the Nigerian Military categorically stated that necessary steps were taken to ensure that the presence of the terrorists was ascertained and the strike was precise and professionally executed.
He assured that the Military High Command will continue to ensure that its troops safe guard lives and properties of innocent citizens.
Gen Onyeuko also said that the Military High Command appreciates the general public for their continuous support and further encourages all to avail the military with credible and timely information that will facilitate our proactive engagements in the fight against terrorism.