Connect with us


Terrorists claim responsibility for shooting down Nigerian Air Force helicopter in Niger



Terrorists have asserted their involvement in the downing of a surveillance helicopter belonging to the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) in the Badna area of Chukuba ward, situated within the Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State.

It is worth recalling that the NAF had officially acknowledged the crash of its MI-171 helicopter, which was engaged in a casualty evacuation operation. The incident occurred on Monday in close proximity to Chukuba village within Niger State. A thorough investigation has been initiated to ascertain the likely factors behind this unfortunate occurrence.

However, terrorists in a video posted on Tuesday claimed they brought down the jet using AK47 rifle.

According to Daily Trust, the narrator in the video, who spoke in Hausa, said they belonged to Dogo Gide group, one of the notorious bandits that had terrorised parts of Niger State, causing deaths of many farmers and security operatives.

Recall that over 20 soldiers were killed in an ambush by bandits along the Zungeru-Tegina Road on Sunday.

However, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Hassan Abubakar, yesterday blamed seasonal challenges and weather conditions for the helicopter crash.

He spoke in his office at NAF headquarters, Abuja, when Niger State governor, Umar Bago, paid him a condolence visit over the killing of soldiers in the state.

He said, “On our own parts, we are not folding our arms, we are just living with the challenges. The ideal thing is to strive for zero incident and accident in any operational environment.

“We are striving for that. It is virtually impossible to achieve but then, you strive for it, so that at the end of the day, you minimise whatever happens. Or when it happens, the effect is significantly abated.

“We are putting a lot of initiatives in place to check this. For example, we have adopted the safety management systems in all our operations. We have also adopted operational risk management procedures among others. Going forward, we are striving to achieve zero incidents in all our operations.

“We also have other challenges which are seasonal. For example, the rain has come and there is route cloud, and this hampers what we can see, especially in terms of our strike capabilities.

“Also, when the harmattan comes, it also has effects on our operations. These are challenges we live with and we hope that sometimes you understand when our operations are hampered or impeded by some of these challenges.”

Abubakar said as long as they operate and fly in order to degrade the enemies, incidents or accidents cannot be ruled out, adding that the important thing is to ensure the problem is reduced to the barest minimum.

He assured that the Nigerian Air Force and the Armed Forces of Nigeria will remain committed, dedicated and undaunted in their efforts to eradicate security challenges perpetrated by these non-state actors.

“The fact is that as long as we operate, fly airplanes, there would be incidents and accidents. In fact, the volume of incidents and accidents is directly proportional to the rate of operations,” he added.