Niger’s Army has killed 14 displaced people who were mistaken for jihadists in the restive southeast where Boko Haram Islamists have staged regular attacks, a local official told AFP.
“It’s an error by the military that cost the lives of 14 civilians… refugees and displaced people” who were returning to their village which they had fled due to Boko Haram violence, the official from the Diffa region told AFP.
Also reporting, Reuters said the Nigerien soldiers were patrolling a militarily restricted zone around the village of Abadam near Lake Chad on Wednesday afternoon when they opened fire on what turned out to be farmers.
It quoted Yahaya Godi, the Secretary General of the Diffa region of southeast Niger, as saying that “fourteen people are dead. Abadam is a village located in the red zone and has been prohibited for a very long time.”
“Any individual seen in the area is considered Boko Haram,” he added.
It was not immediately clear why the civilians were in the restricted area and what made the soldiers open fire.
In April, security forces in the country said that it killed 57 members of Nigeria’s notorious group Boko Haram who raided a village in the southeastern Diffa region overnight.
The news came on a day when the President Donald Trump led government said it was pushing forward with plans to sell up to a dozen aircraft to Nigeria’s air force for the fight against the extremist group Boko Haram.
Sources who were aware of the development had said that the deal could be worth up to $600 million (about N184 billion).
Boko Haram has killed more than 20,000 people and displaced more than two million during a seven-year insurgency aimed at creating an Islamic state in Nigeria.
A regional force that includes troops from Niger has retaken much of its territory in the last two years.