Dozens Killed by Nigerian Military Air Raids, Says Amnesty

Dozens of Nigerians were killed in a military air raid that revealed a “shocking disregard” for innocent lives. Amnesty International, which issued a report on the raid, said the deaths bring into focus systematic violence that plagues the country. 

Clashes between herdsmen and farmers in several Nigerian states have caused 168 deaths in just the last month. Amnesty's investigation highlighted a December 4 incident where Nigeria’s air force fired rockets as a warning amid an ongoing clash. The strike killed at least 35 people. 

Nigeria's conflicts have taken on an ethno-religious dimension, which continues to intensify between Muslim herders and Christian farmers. The air raid was an attempt to quell a retaliatory clash where herdsman were trying to avenge the deaths of 51 people, most of whom were children.

When Nigerian security agencies responded to the crisis with even more “unlawful force,” they exacerbated the situation, Amnesty said.

“Such reckless use of deadly force is unlawful, outrageous and lays bare the Nigerian military’s shocking disregard for the lives of those it supposedly exists to protect,” said Osai Ojigho, the Nigerian director of Amnesty International.

According to a Reuters report, Nigerian Air Force spokesman Olatokunbo Adesanya has denied security agencies bombed those locations and claimed that shots fired were made to deter looters.

A mass burial of more than 70 people was discovered in Nigeria’s central Benue State earlier this month following clashes between nomadic herdsmen and farming communities. The Nigerian army has since ramped up security measures in light of intensified fighting.

For years, Nigeria has also been grappling with the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency while pouring money into its defense spending to stamp out the terrorist group.  Although the Nigerian government has said it defeated the terrorist sect, it continues to pour money into the fight.

Boko Haram Onlookers stand as an ambulance carries dead bodies recovered from the scene of three suicide bomb blasts that left 13 people dead in Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria, on October 23, 2017. The Boko Haram conflict has left at least 20,000 dead and forced more than 2.6 million others to flee their homes since 2009. STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)

About 20,000 people have been killed under the insurgency so far. This comes as alleged suicide bombers belonging to Boko Haram attacked the Internally Displaced Persons camp in Dalori, Borno state on Wednesday—the same day the U.N. launched an appeal for over 200,000 displaced by the militant Islamist group.