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Up to 170 feared dead following botched Nigerian airstrikes on refugee camp

Aid Group Doctors Without Borders has said it fears up to 170 were killed in the Nigerian Air Force's botched bombing on a refugee camp on Tuesday. The group has so far counted 90 deaths, most of whom women and children.

Aid group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said Friday that the death toll from the Nigerian military's accidental air strike on a displaced persons camp in Rann had risen to 90 people.

The group also reported it has received "consistent reports from residents and community leaders" that the death toll could be as high 170, although MSF General Director Bruno Jochum said the latter figure still needs to be confirmed.

The Nigerian military "accidently bombed" the refugee camp while targeting members of the Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram. Military commanders admitted the bombing was a mistake, blaming it on "the fog of war."

Jochum condemned the bombing and said "the victims of this horrifying event deserve a transparent account of what happened and the circumstances in which this attack took place."

MSF humanitarian workers were distributing food and aid at the camp in Rann, which houses between 20,000 and 40,000 people displaced by Boko Haram, when the bombs struck.

An anonymous aid worker described the bombing as "horrifying" and "a huge setback to humanitarian work in the northeast."

MSF tweeted on Friday that the death count in the Rann attack continues to rise.

Investigations to open into botched airstrike

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari said in a statement Wednesday that he "received with regret" news of the bombing, adding that he sympathized with the families of the dead and injured. Buhari also pledged the support of the federal government "in dealing with the situation and attending to the victims."

The government has said an air force board will investigate the bombing and report no later than February 2. Journalists have been blocked from visiting the site, although HRW have released satellite images of the camp following the bombing.

Some 20,000 people have been killed and more than 2.5 million displaced since Boko Haram jihadists took to arms in 2009. The militant group is fighting to establish a hardline Islamic caliphate in northeastern Nigeria. 

Before the bombing, Nigeria's military had made territorial gains against the Jihadist group, pushing them out of their remote bases in Borno state. Major General Lucky Irabor, who heads the operation against the militants, has vowed to continue military efforts against the jihadist group despite Tuesday's botched attack.

dm/rt (dpa, AFP)

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