Nigeria’s air force killed at least 35 people in attacks on villages in December, Amnesty International said in a report released Tuesday (January 30).
According to the rights watchdog, residents of villages in the northeastern state of Adamawa were fired upon by a fighter jet and military helicopters as they attempted to flee herdsmen attacks.
Osai Ojigho, Amnesty’s country director for Nigeria, said air force fighter jets fired rockets at villages to deter communal clashes as a cycle of violence and revenge attacks gripped Adamawa state in December.
She said such reckless use of deadly force is “unlawful, outrageous and lays bare the Nigerian military’s shocking disregard” for the lives of those it supposedly exists to protect.
Air Force spokesman Olatokunbo Adesanya denied the force had bombed any locations in the region or fired shots targeting people.
Human rights groups in Nigeria and abroad have previously accused the military of carrying out extra-judicial killings in the fight against Boko Haram.
The Nigerian army has a long record of human rights abuses. In 2013, soldiers burned homes and opened fire in the village of Baga, killing as many as 200 people, survivors said.
Huge detention centers have been set up to hold families until civilians with perceived sympathies for Boko Haram can be weeded out.
Last year, the Nigerian military mistakenly bombed a displaced persons camp, killing at least 90 civilians.
In recent months, the Nigerian military has made great headway in its war against Boko Haram, President Buhari said earlier this year.