Boko Haram militant group has claimed it shot down a Nigerian fighter jet that went missing earlier this week and which the air force said may have crashed, according to a militant video released on Friday.
But in a quick counter-move, the Nigeria Air Force described the video as false propaganda.
But there are other speculations that the insurgent group may have found the crash site, and shot a propaganda video.
Other analysts however advise that the military investigate to find out if Boko Haram now has any capacity to shoot down planes, and deal with the capacity.
Late Friday, Air Force spokesman, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet said in a statement, “The attention of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has been drawn to some videos being circulated on Social Media, as well as media reports drawn therefrom, alleging that the NAF Alpha Jet aircraft, which was reported missing in Borno State on 31 March 2021 after losing radar contact, was shot down by terrorists.
“One of such videos, in particular, began with sporadic shooting by several terrorists, including underaged children on motorcycles and vehicles. It later skipped abruptly to a scene depicting an aircraft exploding mid-air, supposedly as a result of enemy action. Another part of the video showed a terrorist, who, while standing by the wreckage, claimed that they had shot down the NAF aircraft.
“Although the video is still being thoroughly analysed, it is evident that most parts of the video were deliberately doctored to give the false impression that the aircraft was shot down. For instance, the video clip failed to show the correlation between the sporadic shooting, which even from casual observation was obviously aimed at ground targets, and the sudden mid-air aircraft explosion.
“In addition, it is almost impossible for an aircraft to have exploded mid-air, in the manner depicted in the video, and still have a good part of its fuselage, including its tail, intact. Indeed, an explosive impact of that nature would have scattered the debris of the aircraft across several miles.
“It is obvious that the Boko Haram sect, in its characteristic manner of employing false propaganda, is seeking to claim credit for what was obviously an air accident that could have been caused by several other reasons; particularly at a time when the capability of the group to inflict mayhem has been significantly degraded by the Armed Forces of Nigeria.
“Consequently, Nigerians are please advised to ignore the contents of the videos making the rounds until all investigations as to how the aircraft crashed are completed.
“The NAF, on its part, remains resolute and will continue to work assiduously, in synergy with sister Services and other security agencies, to rid the North East of all terrorist elements.”
AFP, its report, recalls that the Alpha light attack jet was on a mission to support troops fighting militants in northeastern Borno state when it lost radar contact on Wednesday, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) said.
Nigeria’s military have been battling jihadists in the northeast of the country for more than a decade and have recently been fighting them in their stronghold in Sambisa forest in Borno state.
The video, which could not be verified by AFP, was released on a Boko Haram social media channel showing a militant standing on what the group claims is the wreckage of the jet. It shows the Nigerian flag and number NAF 475 on its fuselage.
“Nigeria air force jet fighter… was sent to Sambisa to fight the Mujahideen,” the militant said.
The air force said on Friday that the jet may have crashed. It said the cause of the crash and the whereabouts of the two crew onboard were unknown.
“Search and rescue efforts are still ongoing by NAF surveillance aircraft as well as NAF Special Forces and Nigerian Army troops on ground,” its statement said.
“At this point, the NAF is not ruling out anything regarding the incident. It however remains hopeful that the crew would soon be found and rescued.”
It did not respond immediately to a request for an update on the search.
In 2014, Boko Haram said it shot down another Nigerian air force jet and showed a video claiming to have beheaded its pilot.
Since the Islamist insurgency broke out in 2009, the conflict has killed around 36,000 people in the region and displaced some two million from their homes.
The violence has also spread to neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
The Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) split from Boko Haram in 2016 and has since become a prominent threat, attacking soldiers and bases while killing and kidnapping civilians.
At the start of the year, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed new military commanders after coming under pressure to better tackle insecurity and inject new life into the armed forces.
▪︎ Additional reports by AFP