By Folarin Emmanuel
Nigerian Air Force (NAF) said Operation Mikiya has recorded early success as combat aircraft destroyed several bandits in Zamfara State.
Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, Director of Public Relations and Information, for NAF in a statement said the combat aircraft neutralized several armed bandits during air attacks near Mashema village and at another location 4km Southeast of Yanmari, both in Zamfara state.
He 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 an 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 neutralizing several of them and causing a few survivors to scamper in different directions.”
The NAF spokesman said the two aircraft subsequently pursued the fleeing bandits and thereafter neutralized them in follow-up attacks.
“Similarly, while on armed reconnaissance on 2 August 2018, a NAF combat helicopter located over twenty armed bandits dressed in black attire with stolen cattle in their custody, in an open field near Yankari and Hayin Alhaji villages.”
He however, 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 helicopters’ machine guns.
“Several armed bandits were neutralized in the air attack while a few survivors, seen fleeing the location, were taken out in subsequent follow-up attacks.
“It will be recalled that OPERATION DIRAN MIKIYA, which commenced on 31 July 2018, is an intensive air operation aimed at locating and neutralizing armed bandits and other criminal elements in the Northwest with a view to restoring normalcy in the affected areas.
“The Operation will be sustained, in coordination with sister Services and other security agencies, to stop killings, cattle rustling and other criminal activities.
“Accordingly, the NAF continues to solicit credible intelligence from locals, traditional rulers, local government chairmen and other government functionaries to facilitate the success of the operation,” he said.