By Victor Akaa, Abuja
The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has refuted the claims that 20 fishermen were killed through airstrikes in Borno State as being peddled on the social media.
Acting Director, Defence Media Operations, Brigadier General Bernard Onyeuko dismissed the report alleging the killing of 20 Fishermen in air strikes at Kwatan Daban Masara general area in the fringes of the Lake Tchad by Air Component of Operation HADIN KAI (OPHK) on Sunday 26 September 2021 in a statement relayed to Enugu Reporters on Thursday.
He said, the report was mischievous, untrue and should be disregarded.
According to him, “it is therefore important to make clarifications regarding the air interdiction mission conducted in the general area.
“For the records, it is pertinent to state that the Air Component of OPHK on 26 September 2021, acting on credible actionable intelligence on the activities of terrorists in an identified ISWAP Camp at the said location, conducted air strikes on the target.
“This was after careful Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance missions revealed the activities of ISWAP elements in the location.
“Consequently, the intelligence gathered was processed and carefully analyzed between the period of 19 August and 23 September 2021.
“Persons wearing combat vests and uniforms identified as ISWAP-styled uniforms were seen within the camp.” the statement explained.
The Acting Director noted that a well calculated and precise air interdictions were conducted after ascertaining that the location was ISWAP enclaves hence there was no settlement housing the civilian population around the targeted area.
“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. Although casualty figures could not be ascertained, the strike was verified to be successful in disrupting ISWAP logistics movement and foot soldiers.
“It is important to state that the location is a well-known ISWAP enclave and there is an existing ban on fishing activities within the area.
“Additionally, the general area is known as a gateway for 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 safe guard lives and properties of innocent citizens.” he stated.