Nigeria’s Defense Headquarters has said terrorists were among the civilians slain by an army drone on Sunday in Ligarma village, Igabi local government area, Kaduna State.
A statement released by the Director of Defence Media Operations, Major General Edward Buba, said the attack was executed following the observation of group movements through aerial surveillance that were indicative of prior terrorist tactics and methods.
According to Buba, the threat was removed to stop the terrorists from terrorising defenceless bystanders.
“On 3 Dec 2023, at about 2200hrs and based on untoward activities by terrorists. The NA UAV detachment observed movement of terrorists at Ligarma, a terrorist-infested area of Kaduna State. Aerial surveillance captured movement of groups of persons synonymous with the terrorist tactics and modus operandi.
“The observed advance of the terrorists that were gathered posted a threat to key infrastructure within reach of the untoward activities. Accordingly, the threat was eliminated to prevent the terrorist from unleashing terror on innocent civilians.
“It should be noted that terrorists often deliberately embed themselves within civilian population centres in order for civilian population to bear the consequences of their atrocities. Nevertheless, the Nigerian military does its best at all times to distinguish between civilians and terrorists,” Buba said.
While the DHQ acknowledges that the military views every civilian death in the cause of operations as a tragedy, it claims that instructions for communities to always alert troops of their activities particularly when such a community is known to be infested with terrorists and their sympathisers were not carried out.
The statement read, “One such measure taken by the military is to continually give precise instructions to communities. For instance, communities are to always alert troops of their activities particularly when such a community is known to be infested with terrorists and their sympathisers. These instructions are intended at enabling the military distinguish between friendly and untoward activities.”
The DHQ then said that the military forces will carry out their usual operations in accordance with international law, as well as keep moving cautiously and resolutely toward driving out terrorists from the country.
Earlier on Monday, the Kaduna State Government said the drone mistook villagers for terrorists, killing at least 85 people and injuring more than 66 people.
According to an anonymous source, the government, along with the Nigerian army, had gone to the village to meet with the elders of the community to plead with the family of the victims, also reporting that the affected persons will be compensated.
Initial reports claimed the attack was perpetrated by a Nigeria Air Force (NAF) aircraft, which was swiftly refuted in a statement where it categorically stated that it had not carried out any air operations in Kaduna during the time frame of the attack.
The Air Force also clarified that it is not the only military arm operating armed drones in the North-Western area of Nigeria.