At least 54 victims of the military bomb misfire in Rann, headquarters of Kala-Balge are hospitalized in three hospitals located in Maiduguri with all of them in stable conditions, the Borno State Commissioner for Health, Haruna Mshelia, said in an update released on Wednesday.
Mr. Mshelia said of the 54 victims, 32 persons are receiving treatment at the State Specialist Hospital; 16 victims are being treated at 7th Division Military Hospital in Maimalari Barack while 6 persons are hospitalised at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital.
The Commissioner said that all the 54 hospitalised victims are in stable conditions with medical experts from the state, humanitarian partners and the military attending to their health needs.
The Commissioner said it was still too early to give an accurate number of deaths because as at the time of issuing the update, evacuation of survivors was still ongoing using four helicopters provided by the United Nations and the Nigerian Air Force.
Mr. Mshelia also said that bodies were being recovered.
The Commissioner said humanitarian partners like the MSF, International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, the United Nations and different stakeholders have been extremely dedicated to the emergency evacuation and medical response.
He also said Governor Kashim Shettima has since morning deployed his Deputy, Usman Mamman Durkwa, and the House of Representatives member, representing Kala-Balge, Bama, Dikwa and Ngala federal constituency of Borno State, Mamman Nur Sheriff, and the Assembly member among other officials to scene of the incident at Rann, headquarters of Kala-Balge local government area in order to assess the situation and supervise evacuation of victims to Maiduguri.
While the Deputy Governor was at Rann, Governor Shettima was scheduled to meet officials of the Nigerian Air Force to get formal brief on the incident. The Governor was also remained in Maiduguri to coordinate responses from different quarters and ensure all appropriate steps were being taken.
While in Maiduguri, Governor Shettima received a Presidential delegation led by the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, who came alongside the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan Ali, Minister of information, Lai Mohammed, Chief of Defence Staff, Gabriel Olanishakin, Chief Army Staff, Lt-Gen TY Buratai, and other military officers operating within and outside Borno State.
”The President and C-in-C is very distressed about the incident, and has instructed us to embark on this condolence visit. This kind of incident happens occasionally in war, especially when dealing with terrorists like Boko Haram who arbitrarily and in cowardly fashion hide among civilians. The President deeply regrets the incident. The Armed forces will take extra care to ensure this doesn’t happen again. The Federal Government is working with the State, Local, and International partners to ensure speedy resettlement of IDPs” the Chief of Staff said.
Governor Shettima said the incident was an unfortunate tragedy and a painful price of war.
“It is most unfortunate and wasn’t meant to happen. Nothing can justify this tragedy but going memory lane, incidents of friendly fire is unfortunately as old as history of wars in the world. There are many incidents of friendly fires since the 1st and 2nd World Wars down to ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan, Syria and other parts of the world.
“It is gratifying that nobody made any effort to hide anything or sweep things under carpet. In years gone by, people would have resorted to blame games. I am happy that rather than blame game, information was made public with sincerity, mistakes were accepted and focus was channelled into evacuation and rehabilitation of victims. War comes with different kinds of very terrible prizes and this is one of such painful prizes. We pray this crisis ends and we shall remain forever grateful to all stakeholders for their support,” Mr. Shettima said.
Our correspondent reports that following the unfortunate situation at Rann in Kala-Balge local government area of Borno State, Governor Kashim Shettima had ordered the State Ministry of Health to set up medical emergency response units and coordinate rehabilitation of victims.
Governor Shettima had received the news with shock and very deep concern. The Governor had particularly commended the MSF for its rapid response in providing first aide treatment to victims at the scene while also thanking the ICRC and the UN.