At least 85 civilians were killed in Kaduna State, Nigeria, when the Nigerian Army mistakenly targeted a religious festival with a drone strike.
The incident occurred on Sunday evening, December 3, 2023, in the village of Tudun Biri, where people had gathered to observe Mawlid al-Nabi, a Muslim holiday celebrating the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad.
The Nigerian National Emergency Management Agency confirmed the death toll and reported that at least an additional 68 people sustained various injuries. The casualties included a wide range of people, from children to the elderly. Eyewitness accounts described a horrifying scene where two bombs were dropped; the second struck those trying to help the victims of the first.
The Nigerian Army expressed regret over the incident, acknowledging that their analysis and interpretation of the group’s activities were erroneous. They believed they were targeting bandits, who had plagued the area with violence.
Nigeria’s President, Bola Tinubu, has responded to the incident by ordering a thorough investigation and expressing his condolences to the families of the victims. He described the incident as “disturbing and painful” and called for calm as the investigation proceeds.
The history of accidental military strikes in Nigeria is alarming. SB Morgen, a Nigerian geopolitical intelligence platform, reports that since 2017, at least 300 people have been killed in similar incidents. This pattern raises serious concerns about military and intelligence operations in the country.
The Kaduna State government has announced the formation of a commission of inquiry to investigate the incident. This step suggests a move toward addressing the repeated occurrence of such tragedies.