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Thursday, September 30, 2021

OPHK didn't kill 20 fishermen, but ISWAP says DHq - ITREALMS

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The Nigeria's Defence Headquarters has denied killing 20 fishermen in an air raide in Kwatan Daba Masara last Sunday, around the Lake Tchad area of North East, reports ITREALMS.
According to the Acting Director Defence Media Operations, Brigadier-General Benard Onyeuko, in a press statement available to ITREALMS.
The attention of the Defence Headquarters, he said, has been drawn to misguided media reports trending in the social media alleging that OPHK troops killed 20 Fishermen in an Air Strike in Kwatan Daban Masara on Sunday 26 Sep 21, around the Lake Tchad area of North East Nigeria.

"Contrary to the report, the interdiction targeted and neutralised clearly identified ISWAP terrorists and not fishermen. It is thus pertinent to make clarifications on the air interdiction recently conducted in the general area by OPHK," he said.

The air strike, he also said, was in response to credible Intelligence report on the movement and operation of Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists massed up within the forested area.

He pointed out that thorough analysis of the intelligence report was conducted between 19 August and 23 September 2021.

"Special Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaisance (ISR) mission was also carried out, which confirmed the area as the terrorists' staging area. Further confirmatory reconnaissance revealed that the observed movements and activities were of ISWAP, dressed in the usual ISWAP-styled uniform.

"The terrorists used the thick folliage for cover and concealment to carry out their nefarious activities. They disguised as fishermen, with canoes loaded with unidentified items, berthed along the river bank. They were however observed not engaging in any fishing activity, but loading their canoes with unidentified items to be ferried to other locations.

Additionally, he pointed out that the ban on fishing activities within that general axis is still in force.

"It is equally of importance, to note that there was no presence of women and children in the area," he said, insisting that troops also ensured that civilian settlements were not in any way along the line of fire and strikes in order to prevent collateral damage that may arise in the conduct of the air strikes.

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"It was after all these considerations that an air interdiction was carried out on the terrorists' camp on Sunday, 26 Sep, 2021," he maintained.

The Defence Headquarters, he said, therefore unambiguously declared that necessary steps were taken to ascertain the presence of the terrorists before the interdiction.

OPHK, Brigadier-General Onyeuko said, will continue to safe guard lives and property of innocent civilians, while urging members of the public not to be swayed by the trending misinformation.

Further, the statement read:
"It is crucial to reiterate that the mandate of OPHK remains to conduct Counter Terrorism and Counter Insurgency operations against all adversaries fighting the nation in North East Nigeria.

"We will continue to remain focused and dedicated to that mandate in defence of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of our country, Nigeria. We call on the good people of Borno state, and the north east in general to continue to avail troops with credible information for operational enhancement.

Remmy Nweke/DoP

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