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Many Feared Dead as Nigerian Military Airstrike Hits Local Village  

Kaduna state, Nigeria
Kaduna state, Nigeria

Nigerian authorities said Monday that a military airstrike targeting terrorists in northern Kaduna state had erroneously hit a local village and killed civilians there.

Officials of the Kaduna state Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs confirmed the incident after an emergency security meeting Monday.

Authorities said the military jet was on a routine counterterrorism operation Sunday when it inadvertently bombed the Tudun village in the state and killed dozens of residents.

The victims had gathered to mark the Maulud celebration, the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad that night, when the incident occurred.

Authorities did not give details on casualties but local media reported at least 30 people were killed, and dozens of others were being treated in the hospital.

The state government said Monday that search-and-rescue operations were still underway.

Mike Medubi, media aide to the Kaduna state security commissioner, told VOA by phone, "The official statement is the only authoritative source right now, as no numbers have been published or released from the end of the Kaduna state government. ... I don't know where the other media sources are getting their numbers from."

The Kaduna state government sent condolences to the affected families.

This wasn't the first time this year that a military airstrike had killed civilians in Nigeria.

In January, an airstrike hit a small settlement in Nasarawa state near Abuja, killing 39 people and injuring six others.

Civilian casualties during military operations have in the past sparked debate about such operations as well as war accountability in Nigeria.

Nigeria has been struggling to end a 14-year Islamic insurgency in its northeast and keep armed gangs from spreading across the northwest and central states.

Kaduna is one of the states affected by the activities of kidnap-for-ransom gangs.