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Peace & Security

Investigation as children killed and wounded by Nigerian air strikes over territory held by Niger

23 February 2022
Reading time: 2 minutes

Seven children playing in a yard were killed and five others were wounded in airstrikes by the Nigerian military on the village of Nachadé in the Maradi region of Niger on Friday, February 18.

The governor of Maradi, Chaïbou Aboubacar, was alerted by defence and security forces. He confirmed that seven children had died and five were wounded, saying that four had were killed instantly and three died on the way to hospital.

Witnesses said the Nigerian fighter plane first flew over Nachadé, near the village of Garin Kaoura, in the district of Madarounfa, which is a few kilometres from the Nigerian border and inhabited by people belonging to the ethnic group pehl. When the plane flew over Nachadé a second time, it dropped the bombs.

It was believed that the Nigerians were pursuing armed men from a border village who had taken shelter in the Nachadé village school.

Aboubacar said: “The Nigerian army carried out airstrikes. I suspect armed bandits were the target. These strikes fell on children on the Niger side, a few kilometres from the border. Unfortunately, at the time, their parents were attending a ceremony and there were only children playing in the yard.”

Nigeria has neither confirmed nor denied having launched the airstrikes.

Major-General Jimmy Akpor, Nigeria’s director of defence information, told Reuters: “As a matter of policy, the Nigerian Air Force does not make any incursions into areas outside Nigeria’s territorial boundaries. That’s our policy.”

An investigation was under way, he said.

Teams from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) – Doctors Without Borders – working in the Madarounfa district hospital, treated the children.

Dr Souley Harouna, the Niger representative of MSF, said: The children who came to us at the hospital arrived in an extremely serious condition. Those are big injuries. It’s fractures, eviscerations, deep damage.” 

  • MSF operates in the Maradi region, focusing its efforts on caring for children suffering from acute malnutrition and other early childhood illnesses. Nearly 30,000 children were hospitalised in the four hospitals supported by MSF in the Maradi region in 2021.

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