Baga Killings Grossly Exaggerated – Jonathan…Orders Investigation into Reports of Civilian Casualties
Despite the confirmation by the Nigerian Red Cross that at least 187 persons are dead in the Baga fighting between the Nigerian military and insurgents, President Goodluck Jonathan have said the killings as reported in foreign media may have been grossly exaggerated.
Baga, a fishing community in north-eastern Borno came under attack Friday evening when members of the Nigeria military and a group of insurgents enagaged themselves in a fighting that involved the use of heavy weaponry.
While the insurgents fired rocket-propelled grenades at the military, the soldiers responded by spraying machine-gun fire into the neighborhoods filled largely by civilians.
At least 185 persons were said to have been killed and properties including houses, cars and livestocks said to be burnt and destroyed in the fighting, but President Jonathan in a statement by his Special Adviser of Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati said the casualty figures may have been exaggerated by the foreign media.
Abati said in the statement said “having received preliminary briefings from the Military High Command on the
incident, President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered a full-scale investigation into reports of high civilian casualties in the confrontation between Nigerian soldiers and insurgents at Baga icity, Drin Borno State at the weekend.
“While the preliminary briefings indicate that the casualty figures being reported by the foreign media may be grossly exaggerated, President Jonathan assures Nigerians and the global community that the Federal Government of Nigeria places the highest possible value on the lives of all citizens of the country and that his administration will continue to do everything possible to avoid the killing or injuring of innocent bystanders in security operations against terrorists and insurgents,” the statement added.
The Presidential spokesman said investigation ordered into the incident is to determine amongst other things, determine whether or not these rules were fully complied with, adding that Rules of engagement for the military and security agencies are already in place for this purpose.
The statement also added that the National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) and Federal health agencies have been ordered to liaise with the Borno State Government and take urgent steps to provide immediate relief and medical support for all who suffered losses and injury in the fighting at Baga.
President Jonathan according to the statement “commiserates with all those who have regrettably lost their lives in the fighting, including the soldiers who gallantly made the supreme sacrifice in the operation against terrorism, insurgency and insecurity in Nigeria.”
While expressing hope and expectation that the National Committee for dialogue and the peaceful resolution of security challenges in the North will contribute significantly to ending the continuous loss of lives to wasteful violence, the presidential spokesman said the “president is deeply pained by the continuance of these needless deaths and will continue to do all within his powers to achieve lasting peace, security and stability in all parts of the country.”
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