The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has provided updated information on the recent drone strike in Tudun Biri village, Kaduna State. While expressing regret for the accidental attack, the DHQ confirmed the tragic loss of 81 civilian lives and injuries to 70 others.
The Director, Defence Media Operations, Major General Edward Buba, said the figures were obtained from the leader of the community and the doctor where the injured victims are being treated.
Addressing journalists at the Defence Headquarters in Abuja, on Thursday, Maj. Gen. Buba said that 81 persons were buried.
He said troops within the week under review neutralised 80 terrorists, arrested 304 terrorists and rescued 44 hostages, adding that the troops also arrested 152 suspected oil thieves and seized stolen products worth N347.17 million.
He said, “Now, about the casualties, we heard from the leader of the community and the figure that he gave was close to 80. That is what he said. We can play the clip so you can listen to what he said. He said close to 80. That’s the figure of casualties that were buried. As for those who received treatment in the hospital, I recall the interview with the doctor and he said 71 after which one person died, making it 70. So we can say 81 killed and 70 receiving treatment.”
The Director also denied claims that the lack of synergy between the services in the military led to the mishap in Kaduna State.
According to him, a strong synergy exists between the Nigerian Navy, Air Force, and Army.
“Our operations in the country are joint, meaning that we are operating in a joint environment where you have the army, the Navy, and the Air Force. When we talk of cooperation, we have not had it better than this,” he said.
Buba said the military has learnt from the incident and was working towards improving its operational capabilities to avert such situations in the future.
He said, “When we talk about the incident that happened, I can assure you that the military learns from its experiences and will continue to make improvements as we go along. It is an incident that has happened, and as I mentioned in my brief, we are determined to deal with it squarely. There will be a need for protocols, there will be a need for processes to be improved upon.
“And this I assure you, we will put in place to ensure that in future we have near to zero occurrences. ”
Buba condemned attempts to give the mishap a religious and ethnic coloration.
He said, “The Armed Forces of Nigeria is a professional force. And within our ranks and files, we have members from every part of this country.
“So whatever group is coming up and saying whatever calculations that they have imagined in their minds, I can tell you that it is faulty, it is in error, and it is unpatriotic.
“At this time, when we are at war, it is not just the military that is at war. The whole country is at war. And that is why I have severally said on this platform that there are more people who know something than those that see and therefore know something, say something, and let us, the military, do something about it,”
Speaking further on military successes, he said troops recovered 112 assorted weapons and 898 assorted ammunition.
Meanwhile,in the Niger Delta he said troops destroyed eight dugout pits, 11 boats, 46 storage tanks, seven vehicles, 84 cooking ovens, 356 drums, one outboard engine, one pumping machine and 20 illegal refining sites.
Troops also recovered 81,000 litres of stolen crude oil, 239,500 litres of illegally refined AGO, 5,000 litres of DPK and 10,500 litres of PMS.
In a breakdown, he said troops recovered; two GPMG, one HK21 gun, 14 AK47 rifles, eight pump action guns, four locally fabricated rifles, eight locally made pistols, five dane guns, 239 rounds of 7.62mm NATO, 431 rounds of 7.62mm special ammo, four rounds of 9mm ammo, 52 live cartridges.
Other items recovered include; five magazines loaded with 128 rounds of 7.62mm special, six vehicles, 28 mobile phones, 12 motorcycles, one laptop and sum of N782,790.00 amongst other items.