Nigeria's President Bola Ahmed Tinubu called for a full investigation of a "bombing mishap" that killed 85 people worshipping at a festival. File Photo by Akintunde Akinleye/EPA-EFE
Dec. 5 (UPI) -- Nigerian authorities said a "bombing mishap" by a military drone killed dozens of civilians gathering for a celebration in the country's Kaduna state on Sunday, officials said on Tuesday.
The army, which said it was hunting for "terrorists" in a routine mission in the northwest region of Nigeria did not provide numbers of casualties but residents in the area said 85 people including many women and children were killed.
More than 60 people were injured and taken to hospitals for treatment.
Villagers from Tundun Biri had gathered for a Muslim religious festival when the strike hit.
"The aircraft dropped a bomb at the venue, it destroyed and killed our people including women and children," a witness told the BBC, adding that a second attack followed shortly after.
"The second bomb was dropped on some of us who went to bring dead bodies of the victims of the first blast. We lost about 34 people in my family and we have 66 injured people in the hospital."
Local reports said villagers sought to escape the area to avoid further strikes.
Defense spokesman Maj. Gen. Edward Buba said the drone had been on routine patrol in northwest Nigeria and they had "credible intelligence" of terrorists in the area.
Nigeria's defense ministry described the incident as a "needless tragedy" and Nigerian President Bola Tinubu promised a "thorough and full-fledged investigation into the incident and calls for calm while the authorities look diligently into the mishap."
Army officials and state representatives pledged to compensate those affected.
"We are determined to prevent a repeat of this tragedy and reassure our people that their protection would be prioritized in the sustained fight against terrorists, bandits and other criminal elements," Uba Sani, governor of the Kaduna state, said.
Nigeria regularly conducts air strikes targeting Boko Haram and other militants.
In September 2021, at least 20 fishers were killed and several injured in an attack.
In January 2017, at least 112 people died when a fighter jet hit a camp with 40,000 people displaced by militant violence in the town of Rann near Cameroon.