Home » Airstrike Kills 87 in Kaduna: How It Happened and What’s Next

Airstrike Kills 87 in Kaduna: How It Happened and What’s Next

Survivors recount the horror of the bombing that targeted a religious gathering in Nigeria

by Victor Adetimilehin


On Sunday, March 19, 2023, a Nigerian military aircraft dropped bombs on a village in Kaduna State, killing at least 87 people and injuring dozens more. The attack, which the army claimed was accidental, sparked outrage and grief among the residents of Tudun Biri, where the bombing took place.


The villagers were gathered for Maulud, a Muslim celebration of the birth of Prophet Muhammad when they heard the sound of a plane overhead. Moments later, explosions rocked the area, sending shrapnel and debris flying in all directions.


“I saw bodies everywhere, some of them torn into pieces. I couldn’t recognize some of my relatives and friends. It was like a nightmare,” said Ibrahim Yakubu, who lost his mother and two children in the attack.


Yakubu said he was preparing to join the crowd when he heard the first bomb. He rushed out of his house and saw his wife lying on the ground, bleeding from multiple wounds. As he tried to help her, the second bomb hit and killed his mother, who was running to the scene.


Many other survivors shared similar stories of horror and loss. Aisha Haruna, who lost 13 members of her family, said she almost fainted when she got the news. Bello Ugara, who lost his children and several orphans who lived with him, said he wished he had died with them. Idris Dahiru, who lost 30 relatives, said he wanted justice for the perpetrators.


Why did the bombing happen?


The Nigerian army said the airstrike was a mistake and that it was targeting bandits, a term used to describe armed groups that terrorize rural communities in the northwestern region of the country.


According to a report by Punch, the army said it had received intelligence that the bandits were gathering in the area and that it did not know there was a religious event taking place. It said it regretted the incident and promised to pay for the medical bills of the injured and compensate the families of the deceased.


However, many villagers and civil society groups rejected the army’s explanation and demanded an independent investigation. They accused the military of negligence, recklessness, and disregard for human life.


Government’s Response


The governor of Kaduna State, Uba Sani, visited the site of the bombing and expressed his condolences to the victims. He said the state government was working with the federal government and the military to provide relief and support to the affected community.


He also said the state government had set up a committee to verify the number of casualties and the extent of the damage. He said the official death toll was 87, not 127 as claimed by some sources.


He urged the people to remain calm and peaceful and not to take the law into their own hands. He said the government would ensure that justice was done and that the culprits were held accountable.


Way Forward


The bombing has exposed the fragility of the security situation in Nigeria, especially in the northwestern region, where banditry, kidnapping, and cattle rustling have become rampant.


It has also highlighted the need for the military to improve its professionalism, accountability, and respect for human rights. It has also underscored the importance of dialogue, reconciliation, and tolerance among the diverse religious and ethnic groups in the country.


The bombing has also galvanized the resilience and solidarity of the people of Tudun Biri, who have vowed to overcome the tragedy and rebuild their lives. They have also expressed their gratitude to the local and international community for their support and assistance.

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