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A fresh calamity almost hit the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp Rann, Borno State, on Thursday night, just 48 hours after its accidental bombing by a Nigerian Air Force plane.
This time it was Boko Haram that was on the loose.
About a hundred of its fighters, fully armed, sought to overrun the camp but were repelled by soldiers, witnesses said.
The battle raged for about four hours, leaving eight of the invaders dead and one soldier wounded.
Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres) whose members have been assisting in treating the IDPs especially victims of Tuesday’s accidental bombing said yesterday that the death toll in the incident had reached 90.
Most of the victims were women and children.
An agency report yesterday said the Boko Haram botched attack occurred as aid workers were trying to help bombing victims.
“This incident happened just an hour after a (Doctors Without Borders) rescue helicopter left the town and has a traumatiing effect on everyone in Rann,” one aid worker was quoted as saying.
The Chief of Army’s Staff, Lt Gen. Tukur Buratai was due at Rann on Friday.
The town is the headquarters of Kalabalge local government area.
The Air Force has launched an investigation into the accident.
Doctors Without Borders said that “around 90 people were killed when a Nigerian air force plane circled twice and dropped two bombs in the middle of the town of Rann,” adding that the death toll could still rise further.
It cited “consistent reports from residents and community leaders” that as many as 170 people were killed.
“This figure needs to be confirmed,” it said in a statement.
The victims of this horrifying event deserve a transparent account of what happened and the circumstances in which this attack took place,” MSF General Director Bruno Jochum said.
Humanitarian workers were distributing food to between 20,000 and 40,000 people living in makeshift shelters at the camp when the bombing struck.
MSF’s Jochum said civilians were paying the price of a “merciless conflict” between the government and Boko Haram, the jihadist group which wants to establish a hardline Islamic state in northeast Nigeria.
One aid worker, who asked not to be identified, described the incident as “horrifying” and “a huge setback to humanitarian work in the northeast.”