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September 22, 2017

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Nigerian air force bombs refugee camp, killing more than 100

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria -- A Nigerian air force fighter jet on a mission against Boko Haram extremists mistakenly bombed a refugee camp on Tuesday, killing more than 100 refugees and aid workers and wounding 200, a government official and doctors said.

Military commander Maj. Gen. Lucky Irabor confirmed an accidental bombardment in the northeastern town of Rann, near the border with Cameroon, saying "some" civilians were killed.

It was believed to be the first time Nigeria's military has acknowledged making such a mistake in a region where villagers have in the past reported civilian casualties in the near-daily bombings targeting the Islamic militants.

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari expressed deep sadness and regret at "this regrettable operational mistake."

A Borno state government official, who was helping to coordinate the evacuation of wounded from the remote area by helicopters, said more than 100 refugees and aid workers were among the dead. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

Doctors Without Borders said its team based in Rann counted at least 52 bodies and was treating 200 wounded, many in critical condition, and the death toll was expected to rise.

"This large-scale attack on vulnerable people who have already fled from extreme violence is shocking and unacceptable," said Dr. Jean-Cleant Cabrol, the aid group's director of operations.

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