Only bandits were killed in Zamfara strikes, Air force insists

The Nigerian Air Force has said it is not easy to state the names of bandits killed in its air strikes on hideouts in Zamfara State and environs under Operation Diran Mikiya.

The operation, which was launched by NAF in July 2018, is ongoing in the North-West region to rout bandits, kidnappers and other criminal elements troubling the region.

Asked to ascertain whether only bandits were killed in its air strikes, the Air force authorities said in an interview that the military relied on its Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance platforms and its Battle Damage Assessment to confirm the hideouts of bandits as well as the number of those killed.

The NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, said, it was, however, not an easy task to obtain the names or identities of bandits killed, noting that “bodies might need to be evacuated before names could be obtained.”

He said, “The ISR platforms conduct surveillance and confirm that this is a viable and legitimate target. Also, when the strikes are done, there are also Battle Damage Assessments which let us know if it is a logistics base of the bandits or store or something after the air strikes.

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“But to know the specifics of those who are killed can only come from human intelligence reports. Human intelligence reports often come from community leaders, informants and sometimes from our own troops.

“But in trying to find the names of those killed, that means you are bringing the dead bodies to try and establish who these persons are. That is not an easy task.”

He added, “So, it is not at every point that from human intelligence reports, we are able to dig into the details of names or otherwise.”

Meanwhile, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has urged the Air Task Force, Operation Diran Mikiya, in the North-West to intensify efforts at ensuring peace and stability in the region.

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The CAS, who spent the Easter holiday with troops, said the troops must remain resolute in eliminating the activities of bandits in Zamfara and surrounding states.

Abubakar, who was represented by the Air Officer Commanding, Special Operations Command, Air Vice Marshal Napoleon Bali, noted that the visit would boost the troops’ morale and assuage the pains of their inability to celebrate the season with their families.

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