Medicine Sans Frontier, MSF, has said “consistent reports” from residents and community leaders indicated that as many as 170 persons may have died from the bombing of the Rann IDP camp in Borno state by a Nigerian Air Force jet.
The official figure of the casualties as at Thursday evening was 54 death, after two of those under treatment in hospitals in Maiduguri were confirmed to have died.
The international humanitarian group in a statement on Friday however said the toll “may have risen to about 90 deaths” from official accounts.
Quoting Bruno Jochum, the MSF General Director, the statement said the international aid agency said it would be investigating the claims by unofficial sources, as the victims of the “horrifying” incident deserve a transparent account of what took place in Rann.
It was reported on Tuesday that as many as 54 persons had died and 120 others clinically injured after the air force jet missed its coordinate.
The full statement of MSF reads:
“The death toll continues to rise following the horrific military attack on civilians in Rann, Nigeria, according to latest estimates by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). Around 90 people were killed when a Nigerian airforce plane circled twice and dropped two bombs in the middle of the town of Rann, which hosts thousands of internally displaced people. At the time of the attack, an aid distribution was taking place. The majority of the victims were women and children.
“Outside of what MSF teams have witnessed, consistent reports from residents and community leaders say as many as 170 people were killed.
“This figure needs to be confirmed. The victims of this horrifying event deserve a transparent account of what happened and the circumstances in which this attack took place. Many of the survivors will need long-term care and support for the future,” says Bruno Jochum, MSF General Director. “People had sought safety in what they thought was a protected site – instead they were bombed by those who were meant to safeguard them.”
“The tragedy in Rann too clearly illustrates the dire situation in Borno State, where extremely vulnerable people remain trapped in a cycle of daily violence between the Nigerian military and Boko Haram. This intense violence has led to the displacement of nearly three million people over the past few years, who are still in urgent need of protection and assistance.
“The population continues to pay the price of a merciless conflict, where the war between Boko Haram and Nigerian military too often disregards the safety of civilians,” says Jochum. “The people of Borno should be entitled to guarantees of protection and assistance. All parties to the conflict must ensure the safety of civilians, and we urge the Government of Nigeria to ensure the protection of its people.”
“MSF first started working in Nigeria in 1996 and is one of the few organizations still able to operate in hard-to-reach areas of the country”.
Meanwhile, the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, is said to be on his way to Rann today. The army chief is expected to fly to Rann alongside some top army officials and selected journalists.
Buratai was among the Federal government delegation that visited Maiduguri on Wednesday. He stayed back in Maiduguri when his colleagues, the Chief of Defense Staff and the Chief of Air Staff returned to Abuja with officials of the Buhari administration.