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In a separate statement signed by defense spokesman Edward Buba, the Nigerian military said the drone strike was based on information about suspected terrorist activity in the area.
On Tuesday, officials confirmed that the Nigerian military launched an airstrike in the northern state of Kaduna on Sunday during a counter-terrorism operation, but mistakenly hit a residential area, killing at least 85 civilians and injuring 66 others.
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) "has received details from local authorities that 85 corpses have been buried so far, while the search is still ongoing" in Igabi local government area, NEMA spokesperson Halima Suleiman said during an interview with local channels television.
The Nigerian military admitted the "mistake" during a meeting Monday with government officials, according to a statement issued by the Kaduna state government.
The incident occurred as part of a military operation aimed at eliminating terrorist elements in the region. The drone strike, however, hit a residential area instead of the intended target, resulting in a substantial loss of life among the local population.
A 'mistaken' army drone strike on a religious gathering in northern Nigeria killed at least 85 people on Sunday, the authorities said in a statement on Tuesday. The president on Tuesday ordered a probe into the latest in a series of mistakes in Nigeria's conflict zones. pic.twitter.com/qak5f6bym7
President Bola Tinubu ordered a thorough investigation of the incident and called for calm among the population. In a statement, Tinubu expressed deep regret and sorrow over the killings, describing the incident as "very unfortunate, disturbing, and painful."
In a separate statement signed by defense spokesman Edward Buba, the Nigerian military said that the drone attack was based on information concerning suspicious activities of terrorists in the area.
The unmanned aerial vehicle detachment observed the movement of a group of people suspected to be terrorists at a location known for terrorist activity in Kaduna, Buba said, adding that "aerial surveillance captured the movement of groups of persons exhibiting characteristics synonymous with terrorist tactics and modus operandi."
"The Nigerian military does its utmost at all times to distinguish between civilians and terrorists, although terrorists often deliberately embed themselves within civilian populations to shield themselves from consequences," Buba said.