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Michael Olugbode, Maiduguri, John Shiklam in Kaduna and Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
Three passengers in a vehicle traveling on the Maiduguri-Damaturu highway were killed, and seven others abducted by suspected members of Boko Haram who laid siege on the road friday.
Also Friday, the Nigerian Airforce confirmed that bandits killed one of its personnel in an ambush in Unguwan Yako, near Buruku, along the Kaduna- Birnin Gwari road, Kaduna state.
A statement issued friday in Abuja by NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, said they recorded the lone casualty when troops of the 271 Nigerian Air Force Detachment, Birnin Gwari foiled an ambush by armed bandits at Ungwan Yako on the Kaduna-Birnin Gwari Road.
This is in addition to airstrikes the Airforce conducted yesterday in Kollaram on the fringes of Lake Chad that killed scores of fighters of the Islamic State for West African Province (ISWAP).
The insurgents that killed the three people and abducting seven others on Maiduguri-Damaturu highway, struck on Thursday morning at Auno village, according to security sources, who pleaded anonymity.
A member of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) at the state government owned park, who pleaded anonymity, confirmed the report and said some of the drivers plying the route had to park their vehicles for fear of being attacked.
The Maiduguri-Damaturu highway, which used to be the only safe land route into the troubled Maiduguri, recently gained notoriety with series of attacks and abduction of both civilians and security/military men on the road.
During the week, the military and the Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum had an agument over attempts by soldiers to evacuate residents from two villages on the highway, Jakana and Mainok.
The military who had identified the two villages as harbouring insurgents, said the evacuation would keep the highway free and allow them to face the terrorist group in a crossfire without fear of civilian casualties, while the governor felt the action was without his consent and against due process, even as it would allow for the entire 130 kilometres between Damaturu and Maiduguri to be without life and instill fear on travelers.
Meanwhile, The NAF Spokesman, Daramola said the gallant troops in Kaduna were able to disperse the over 70 bandits, who had laid ambush on Thursday, killing several in the process.
“Unfortunately, one NAF personnel paid the supreme price in the process while some sustained varying degrees of injury. The deceased airman, Aircraftman Mukhtar Ibrahim, is scheduled to be buried today (yesterday) in accordance with Islamic rites, while the injured personnel are currently receiving treatment at the NAF Hospital in Kaduna,” he said.
Daramola said the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, on behalf of all officers, airmen, airwomen and civilian staff of the NAF, commiserates with the family of the fallen hero.
“Abubakar prays that the Almighty grants his soul peaceful repose,” the NAF director of public relations and information said.
The CAS, Daramola said, has urged all NAF personnel to remain resolute and continue to work assiduously in synergy with sister services and other security agencies, to rid the North-east of all criminal elements.
An update issued by NAF on the ongoing war against insurgency said the air strikes were executed in two waves of attacks following successive days of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions that led to the identification of compounds within the settlement where the terrorists’ leaders were housed.
“Accordingly, the ATF detailed its fighter aircraft to attack the identified hideouts in different parts of the settlement, destroying the structures and killing several terrorists, including a few that were spotted near a cluster of buildings at the northern edge of the location,” it said.