Nigerian air force kills dozens of civilians in northeast - sources


MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (Reuters) - The Nigerian Air Force fired upon and killed dozens of civilians at a village in the northeast, a victim and a resident said on Tuesday, as the country wages a 12-year war against Islamist insurgencies.

The air force did not respond to repeated requests for comment by phone and message.

The deaths come two months after the U.S. government transferred six A-29 Super Tucano fighter planes to Nigeria to assist in its war against Islamist militants. The sale of the aircraft was condemned by critics, citing the Nigerian military's record of killing civilians.

Two planes bombed a fish market in the village of Daban Masara on Sunday, said Husaini, who spoke to Reuters by phone on condition he be identified only by his first name. He said his leg was wounded in the attack.

"At least 50 people were killed instantly... including my friend who got married just three weeks ago," Husaini said.

The other resident, who asked not to be named, said locals had been fishing despite a military ban on the trade because of allegations the sales of fish are funding the Islamic State West Africa Province insurgent group.

The resident said they saw the corpses of at least 60 people after the air force's strike.

"They are innocent people like us that depend on fishing to sustain their living. Their mistake is that they were fishing in an area restricted by security forces," said the resident.

A United Nations security report reviewed by Reuters confirmed the strike, saying one fisherman was killed and six wounded

It is not clear whether the killings could affect the transfer to Nigeria of six more A-29 Super Tucanos, propeller-driven light attack aircraft.

The United States under then-President Donald Trump agreed to sell the planes to Nigeria in 2017, resurrecting a deal frozen by the Barack Obama administration after the Nigerian Air Force bombed a refugee camp, killing as many as 170 civilians.

(Reporting by Maiduguri Newsroom; Additional reporting by Camillus Eboh; Writing by Paul Carsten; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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