The Nigerian Air Force says it has killed several armed bandits terrorising various communities in Zamfara State.
Air Force Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, revealed this in a statement on Friday, barely one week after the government sent security forces to flush bandits from the state.
He said the recently launched Operation Diran Mikiya recorded some early successes when NAF combat aircraft neutralised the bandits during air attacks near Mashema Village and at another location in Yanmari area of Zamfara.
Air Commodore Daramola said, “On 1 August 2018, ground troops, while on clearance operations near Mashema, came in contact with a group of armed bandits at a location west of Mashema Village and, therefore, requested for air support.
“Accordingly, a NAF Alpha Jet aircraft from Katsina and a Mi-35M from Gusau were scrambled. In close coordination with troops on the ground, the combat aircraft engaged the bandits’ location with rockets and cannons, neutralising several of them and causing a few survivors to scamper in different directions.”
He added that both aircraft subsequently pursued the fleeing bandits, caught up with them and thereafter killed them in follow-up attacks.
Similarly, the Air Force spokesperson said a NAF combat helicopter while on armed inspection located over 20 armed bandits on Thursday.
The suspects who were reportedly dressed in black attire were found with stolen cattle in their custody at an open field near Yankari and Hayin Alhaji villages.
He said that the bandits, a few of whom were mounted on motorcycles, began to disperse on hearing the sound of the helicopter but were engaged by the helicopter’s machine guns.
Daramola noted that several armed bandits were killed in the air attack while a few survivors seen fleeing the location were taken out in subsequent follow-up attacks.
He called for more credible intelligence from residents, traditional rulers, local government chairmen and other government functionaries, to facilitate the success of the military operation in the region.
Operation Diran Mikiya, which commenced on Tuesday, is an intensive air operation aimed at locating and killing armed bandits and other criminal elements in Nigeria’s North-West region, with a view to restoring normalcy in the affected areas.
The Air Force promised to sustain the operation in coordination with sister services and other security agencies, as well as stop killings and cattle rustling among other criminal activities in Zamfara and other affected states.