2023 came to a close in Nigeria on a tragic note. On Sunday night, December 3, a military drone strike killed many civilians gathered for a religious celebration at Tudun Biri village in Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State. The National Emergency Management Agency said in a statement on Tuesday that “85 dead bodies have so far been buried while search is still ongoing.” But Amnesty International, Nigeria Office, put the figure at 120.
“Many of them were children [and] more dead bodies are being discovered,” Isa Sanusi, the group’s director in Nigeria, told the Associated Press.
Most accounts say the attack took place as Muslims gathered to observe the holiday celebrating the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. Kaduna Governor Uba Sani said civilians were “mistakenly killed and many others were wounded” by a drone “targeting terrorists and bandits.”
The head of the Nigerian army division in charge of operations in Kaduna was quoted by the state government as saying during a security meeting on Monday that the drone operation in the north over the weekend was a routine one.
“The Nigerian army was on a routine mission against terrorists but inadvertently [its actions] affected members of the community,” a statement issued by the Kaduna State Ministry of Internal Security quoted Major-General Valentine Okoro, head of the army division, as saying.
“Search-and-rescue efforts are still ongoing, as dozens of wounded victims have been evacuated” to hospital for treatment, Kaduna state Internal Security Commissioner, Samuel Aruwan, said.
The incident attracted both national and international attention. Though the event took place in the night on the penultimate Sunday, by morning the following day the story was in most media around the world.