KANO (AFP) – At least 20 fishermen were killed accidently in a Nigerian military strike on an extremist camp in northeast Nigeria, two security sources and locals told AFP on Monday.
A Nigerian fighter jet early on Sunday bombarded Kwatar Daban Masara in Lake Chad, which straddles Nigeria and neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, the sources said. The area is a bastion for the Islamic State (IS)-affiliated Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP).
The reports of casualties came less than two weeks after officials said another air strike on a village killed nine civilians in Nigeria’s northeast where the military is battling a 12-year extremist insurgency.
ISWAP recently lifted a ban on fishermen in its territory, allowing them to move in and fish in the freshwater lake for a fee. That led to an influx of fisherman who had abandoned the area.
“Any fisherman that goes to that area does so at his own risk because it is an enemy territory and there is no way of differentiating them from the terrorists,” one local intelligence source said.
“From the information we have been receiving the death toll is much higher than 20.”
Local fisherman Labo Sani told AFP by telephone that the jet strike hit Kwatar Daban Masara at around 6am (0500 GMT), killing around 20 fishermen.
Kwatar Daban Masara which is on the shores of the lake is the “gateway to ISWAP’s camps on several islands” and a supply route for the extremists, said Sani from nearby Daban Masara.