The Air Force says its Air Task Force (ATF) for Operation DIRAN MIKIYA has neutralized no fewer than 10 armed bandits at Sububu Forest area in Zamfara State.
According to its spokesman, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, the feat was achieved on Monday while the ATF was responding to a request for close air support by ground troops of Sector 7 Area of Responsibility of Operation SHARAN DAJI, who came in contact with armed bandits in Shinkafi Local Government Area (LGA).
“Accordingly, the ATF dispatched 2 Alpha Jets and an attack helicopter to provide the needed support and also conduct armed reconnaissance over identified locations in Shinkafi LGA as well as Sububu and Dumburum Forests and environs.
“At Sububu Forest, one of the Alpha Jets spotted a group of armed bandits, who fired at the aircraft with their rifles, whilst running for cover. The Alpha Jet engaged the bandits, neutralizing no fewer than 10 of them while others escaped with injuries.
“The NAF, working in consonance with surface forces and other security agencies, will sustain its operations to flush the bandits out of the Northwest of the Country”, the statement added.
In another development, the Air Force has taken delivery of two new Agusta 109 Power attack helicopters, to intensify its anti-terror war in the north east.
Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, broke the news to troops of the Air Task Force (ATF) Operation LAFIYA DOLE (OPLD), during A luncheon to mark the Easter holidays in Maiduguri on Monday.
The helicopters are now being assembled for induction during the forthcoming 2019 NAF Day Celebration taking place in Abuja from 27 – 29 April.
Abubakar expressed delight to be in Maiduguri and commended the resilience and commitment of the troops in ensuring that Nigeria and Nigerians are safe.
He said the NAF, with the support of President Muhammadu Buhari, and the National Assembly, would continue to acquire new platforms and build human capacity.
He added that NAF would continue to ensure the welfare of personnel in order for them to effectively respond to national security imperatives.
He commended the Commander, officers, airmen and airwomen of the ATF for successes recorded within the OPLD Theatre and in the Multi-National Joint Task Force Operation YANCIN TAFKI.
He equally commended the ATF Commander for the various value adding welfare projects executed to enhance the wellbeing of personnel.
The CAS reminded the personnel that so much was at stake in the fight to rid the Nation of insurgents, terrorists, bandits and other criminal elements.
He urged them to remain resolute while intensifying efforts and maintaining continuous vigilance to defend the liberties and values Nigerians hold so dear.
The ATF Commander, AVM James Gwani, expressed the appreciation of the officers and men of the ATF to Abubakar for his consistent presence in Maiduguri.
He also stated that CAS presence was not only a huge source of motivation, but also an indication of his commitment to the welfare and morale of personnel.
He thanked the CAS for providing necessary facilities to ensure effective service delivery and pledged their unwavering loyalty and commitment towards ensuring mission accomplishment.
Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, who issued a statement about the lunch said the lunch, is in keeping with the CAS’ tradition of celebrating festive periods with frontline troops.
He said it also afforded Abubakar the opportunity to interact with the troops in an informal setting to appreciate them for their sacrifices in the fight against insurgency.
Daramola said this would boost their morale and also fill the void created by their inability to celebrate the season with their families.
Additional reports by NAN