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Two Nigerian officers face court martial over drone strike that killed 85 civilians

NIGERIA’S military has ordered two officers to face court martial proceedings over a drone strike that killed at least 85 civilians, the defence HQ said, more than four months after President Bola Tinubu ordered an investigation.

The December 3 air strike was one of the deadliest to hit civilians as the Nigerian military increasingly relies on aerial assaults in fighting Islamic militants in the northeast and armed kidnapping gangs in the northwest.

Defence Headquarters spokesperson Major General Edward Buba said the findings of an investigation of the strike in a village in northern Kaduna state showed that it should never have happened.

“The military has conducted a painstaking investigation into the incident and has initiated disciplinary action against those culpable,” said Buba, adding that they would face a court martial.

The military has said it wrongly took the religious gathering of villagers in Kaduna as that of armed criminal gangs and apologised for the error.

But it was one of a series of aerial assaults by the Nigerian military that have killed civilians.

Last month, an air strike on a village in northwestern Zamfara state killed at least 33 people, according to residents and a traditional leader, in a military operation targeting armed kidnap gangs and their hideouts.

The military denied targeting or killing civilians.