Mil­i­tary bomb­ing that killed 90 a ‘mis­take’

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD - STAFF RE­PORTER

THE EVENTS lead­ing up to the deadly aerial bomb­ing by the Nige­rian mil­i­tary of Rann, which killed more than 90 peo­ple and wounded 120, re­main un­clear a week after the at­tack in a re­mote part of the restive north-eastern Borno State.

A team from Doc­tors With­out Bor­ders (MSF) was pro­vid­ing med­i­cal as­sis­tance in the town when the bomb­ing oc­curred. The or­gan­i­sa­tion says out­side of what its staff wit­nessed, con­sis­tent re­ports from com­mu­nity lead­ers and sur­vivors say as many as 170 peo­ple were killed – the ma­jor­ity be­ing women and chil­dren.

Baba, a 37-year-old Rann res­i­dent, who was wounded in the at­tack, said he and other res­i­dents were used to see­ing jets fly over Rann in the past, but on this day some­thing else hap­pened.

“(Last week) Tues­day, it was dif­fer­ent – the plane flew back and forth and we knew some­thing was wrong be­fore the bomb­ing hap­pened. When the first bomb­ing hap­pened, I was far from it. But it hap­pened close to the mil­i­tary bar­racks and I thought that if a bomb could drop so close to the bar­racks, we were in real dan­ger,” Baba re­counted.

The Nige­rian gov­ern­ment, which has been locked in a mer­ci­less bat­tle with Boko Haram for sev­eral years, de­scribed the at­tack as a “re­gret­table op­er­a­tional mis­take”.

Many peo­ple were for­tu­nate to es­cape the at­tack as they were queu­ing for their share of es­sen­tial items from MSF, which was dis­tribut­ing mats and blan­kets out­side the town cen­tre.

Due to the on­go­ing con­flict and high lev­els of in­se­cu­rity in the area, the MSF team ar­rived in Rann on Jan­uary 14 to eval­u­ate peo­ple’s nu­tri­tional sta­tus and as­sess their med­i­cal needs fol­low­ing re­ports that 21 peo­ple had died due to mal­nu­tri­tion the week be­fore.

Al­fred Davies, MSF field co-or­di­na­tor in Rann, said he barely had words to de­scribe the chaos that fol­lowed the bomb­ing. “Some peo­ple had bro­ken bones and torn flesh; their in­testines hanging down to the floor. I saw bod­ies of chil­dren that had been cut in two. The tents were strewn with wounded, and there was barely any room to move. Many peo­ple were out­side, ly­ing on mats un­der the trees.” Davies says MSF staff were over­whelmed by the num­ber of crit­i­cally wounded.

MSF has con­demned the at­tack, call­ing on all par­ties to the con­flict in­clud­ing the gov­ern­ment of Nige­ria to en­sure the safety of civil­ians and pro­tec­tion of peo­ple.

PIC­TURE: EPA

Nige­rian troops pa­trol in the af­ter­math of the bomb­ing in Rann, Nige­ria.

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