DHQ: Airstrike in Borno killed ISWAP fighters — not fishermen

The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) says a recently launched airstrike in Borno killed fighters of the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), and not fishermen.

There had been reports that the air operation conducted by troops of operation Hadin Kai killed about 20 fishermen in Kwatan Daban Masara, Borno state.

Benard Onyeuko, defence spokesperson, in a statement on Thursday, said the insurgents were disguising as fishermen.

He said the military had gathered enough intelligence before launching the strike.


“Contrary to the report, the interdiction targeted and neutralised clearly identified ISWAP terrorists and not fishermen,” the statement reads.

“Responding to credible Intelligence report on the movement and operation of Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists massed up within the forested area, thorough analysis of the intelligence report was conducted between 19 August and 23 September 2021.

“Special Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaisance (ISR) mission was also carried out, which confirmed the area as the terrorists’ staging area. Further confirmatory reconnaissance revealed that the observed movements and activities were of ISWAP, dressed in the usual ISWAP-styled uniform.


“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.

“It is also very essential to point out that the ban on fishing activities within that general axis is still in force. It is equally of importance, to note 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.”

The defence spokesperson maintained that necessary steps were taken to ascertain the presence of the terrorists before the airstrike.

Editor’s note: The featured image was used for illustrative purposes.

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