The Nigerian Air Force (NAF), yesterday, disclosed that its combat aircraft have neutralised several bandits during air attacks near Mashema village and at another location four kilometres Southeast of Yanwari, both in Zamfara State.
NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, in a statement in Abuja, said: “On August 1, ground troops, while on clearance operations near Mashema, came into 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, neutralising several of them and causing a few survivors to scamper into different directions.
“The two aircraft subsequently pursued the fleeing bandits and thereafter neutralised them in follow-up attacks.
“Similarly, while on armed reconnaissance on August 2, a NAF combat helicopter located over 20 armed bandits dressed in black attire, with stolen cattle in their custody, in an open field near Yankari and Hayin Alhaji villages.
“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 neutralised in the air attack, while a few survivors seen fleeing the location were taken out in subsequent follow-up attacks,” Daramola said.
He said that Operation Diran Mikiya, which commenced on July 31, was an intensive air operation aimed at locating and neutralising 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.