Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation Diran Mikiya between August 15 and 18 successfully degraded several identified hideouts of a notorious armed bandit kingpin in Zamfara State.
The attacks, which were executed in support of ground troops in Sector 2 of Operation Sharam Daji were planned based on credible intelligence that the kingpin and his group of armed bandits were using an abandoned primary school in Shamashale as well as some makeshift settlements in nearby Rugu Forest in the Eastern part of the state as bases for their operations.
According to the Director of Public Relations and Information (DOPRI), Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, the attack at Shamashale was conducted on August 15, 2018, following further confirmatory Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions that revealed the presence of several armed bandits in the area.
Daramola in a statement Tuesday, said the ATF dispatched two combat helicopters to attack the location.
He said: “During the attack, some bandits carrying sophisticated high caliber weapons were seen trying to flee the area. Some were on motorcycles carrying AK-47 rifles and, rather than dropping their weapons and surrendering, attempted to shoot at the helicopters; hence they were neutralised.
“Battle Damage Assessment (BDA) conducted on 16 August 2018 confirmed that the kingpin’s main hideout had been severely degraded and human intelligence (HUMINT) sources later availed pictures of some of the slain bandits. Items recovered from the armed bandits include two General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMGs), two AK 47 rifles, 100 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition and 2 mobile phones. “
The DOPRI stated that the adjoining settlement camps within RUGU Forest, which had earlier been confirmed by HUMINT sources to be inhabited by only bandits, were attacked on August 18.
He added that a ground attack aircraft and two combat helicopters struck the camps in successive waves; first targeting the shelters and then executing follow-on attacks to ensure the threat posed to the local villagers was adequately dealt with.
Daramola assured that the ATF will continue to dominate the area through armed reconnaissance and air interdiction missions to completely decimate the armed bandits in order to ensure a return to normalcy in Zamfara and other states in the North West.
He however, warned all persons involved in armed banditry in the area to renounce violence, surrender to security agencies and hand over their weapons.