The Defence Headquarters has said its airstrike in Lake Tchad was targeted at Islamic State West Africa Province ISWAP and not fishermen as allegedly reported.
The Acting director defence media operations Brig Gen Benard Onyeuko stated this while reacting to media reports in the social media alleging that OPHK troops killed 20 Fishermen in an Air Strike in Kwatan Daban Masara.
He said contrary to the report, “the interdiction targeted and neutralised clearly identified ISWAP terrorists and not fishermen.”
He said the OPHK while responding to credible Intelligence reports on the movement and operation of Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists messed up within the forested area, conducted thorough analysis of the intelligence report between 19 August and 23 September 2021.
He said a Special Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) mission was also carried out, which confirmed the area as the terrorists’ staging area.
He added that further confirmatory reconnaissance revealed that the observed movements and activities were of ISWAP, dressed in the usual ISWAP-styled uniform.
He said “the terrorists used the thick foliage for cover and concealment to carry out their nefarious activities.
“They disguised as fishermen, with canoes loaded with unidentified items, berthed along the river bank. They were however observed not engaging in any fishing activity, but loading their canoes with unidentified items to be ferried to other locations,”
The Director restated that the ban on fishing activities within that general axis is still in force,adding that there was no presence of women and children in the area.
“Troops also ensured that civilian settlements were not in any way along the line of fire and strikes in order to prevent collateral damage that may arise in the conduct of the air strikes.
It was after all these considerations that an air interdiction was carried out on the terrorists’ camp on Sunday, 26 Sep, 2021,” he said
He said necessary steps were taken to ascertain the presence of the terrorists before the interdiction as OPHK will continue to safeguard lives and property of innocent civilians.
He therefore,urged members of the public not to be swayed by the trending misinformation and continue to support the military in it’s fight against all adversaries in the nation.