The Boko Haram terror group has released a video showing its fighters shooting down an aircraft believed to be the alpha jet declared missing by the Nigerian Air Force.
In a seven-minute, thirty seconds video, the jet was seen flying low to the ground while the insurgents shot at it.
The jet went missing on Wednesday evening while carrying out a mission against the terrorists in Borno State.
The spokesperson of the Nigerian Air Force, Edward Gabkwet, said on Friday morning that the jet may have crashed.
“Intelligence report gathered by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) indicates that the Alpha Jet aircraft (NAF475) that went off the radar with 2 crew members on board on 31 March 2021 might have crashed,” he said.
Mr Gabkwet, an air commodore, also named the two pilots missing from the incident.
“The cause of the crash as well as the whereabouts of the 2 pilots remain unknown. The pilots are Flight Lieutenant John Abolarinwa and Flight Lieutenant Ebiakpo Chapele.”
Earlier on Thursday, Mr Gabkwet said the alpha jet lost contact with the radar in Borno State during the flight.
He said the plane disappeared “while on interdiction mission in support of ground troops. The mission was part of the ongoing counterinsurgency operations in the North East.”
BOKO HARAM CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY
According to Humangle, an online newspaper, the terrorists were seen in the video shooting down the aircraft while it came down in flames.
The insurgents were also seen moving towards the debris of the aircraft to remove components of the aircraft and personal effects of the pilots.
Another terrorist was also seen standing on the aircraft while speaking in Hausa and English.
The latest aircraft incident comes weeks after another Air Force aircraft, a Beechcraft KingAir B350i, crashed after reporting engine failure on its way to Minna, Niger State.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported how the plane was heading to that destination to conduct surveillance missions over Niger State and its environs in connection with the efforts to secure the release of the student and staff abducted from the Government Science College Kagara, Niger State.
That February 21 crash led to the death of Flight Lieutenant Haruna Gadzama (Captain), Flight Lieutenant Henry Piyo (Co-Pilot), Flying Officer Micheal Okpara (Airborne Tactical Observation System (ATOS) Specialist), Warrant Officer Bassey Etim (ATOS Specialist), Flight Sergeant Olasunkanmi Olawunmi (ATOS Specialist), Sergeant Ugochukwu Oluka (ATOS Specialist), and Aircraftman Adewale Johnson (Onboard Technician).
The Nigerian Air Force is involved in the anti-insurgency operation in the North-east as well as in the onslaught against bandits in the North-west and North-central geopolitical zones, providing reconnaissance intelligence and aerial covers for ground troops.
The NAF also engages in the bombardment of terrorists’ enclaves from time to time.
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