The Defence Headquarters has dismissed the report of the killing of 20 fishermen in an airstrike by the Air Component of Operation Hadin Kai at Kwatan Daban Masara in the fringes of Lake Chad.
The Acting Director, Defence Media Operations, Brig.-Gen. Bernard Onyeuko disclosed this in a statement on Thursday in Abuja.
Onyeuko explained that the air Component, acting on credible intelligence on the activities of terrorists in an identified ISWAP camp at the said location, conducted airstrikes on the target on Sept. 26.
He said the air interdiction was conducted after careful Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance missions revealed the activities of ISWAP elements in the location.
According to him, the intelligence gathered was processed and carefully analyzed between the period of Aug. 19 and Sept. 23.
“Persons wearing combat vests and uniforms identified as ISWAP-styled uniforms were seen within the camp.
Furthermore, neither women nor children were noticed in or around the camp, just as no fishing activities were seen.
Instead, canoes loaded with unidentified items were seen parked but not engaged in any fishing activity, an indication that they were to be ferried to another location.
Having carefully ascertained that nearby civilian settlements were not in the line of fire and a precision strike would disrupt ISWAP logistics movement and neutralize them; a decision was made to conduct a strike on the ISWAP camp,” he said.
Onyeuko stated that casualty figures could not be ascertained, saying the strike was verified to be successful in disrupting ISWAP logistics movement and foot soldiers.
He said that the location is a well-known ISWAP enclave, adding that there was an existing ban on fishing activities within the area.
He further explained that the general area was known as a gateway for the movement of logistics by ISWAP elements especially from Kirta and Wulgo locations.
“Therefore, the Nigerian Military wishes to state categorically that necessary steps were taken to ensure that the presence of the terrorists was ascertained and the strike was precise and professionally executed.
The Military High Command will continue to ensure that its troops safeguard the lives and properties of innocent citizens.
It appreciates the general public for their continuous support and further encourages all to avail the military with credible and timely information that will facilitate our proactive engagements in the fight against terrorism,” he said.