Armed ViolenceNews

Nigerian Air Force Scales Up Operation In Northwest

On Sunday, September 13, 2020, Nigerian Air Force (NAF) aircraft conducted a bombing raid on a terror camp after intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft scouting of Doumbourou Forest zoomed in on a gathering of armed militants.

Doumbourou Forest in Zamfara and other forest areas in northwestern Nigeria, once known for distinct Savannah shrubs, water points and wildlife, alongside pastoralist and farming communities, have become sanctuaries for armed groups terrorising communities in the region.

Fighter jets and helicopter gunships dispatched from an airbase conducted multiple bomb and rocket strikes targeting militants belonging to a gang led by ‘Dangote’ and their new camp.

The airstrike was the first confirmed scale-up of air operation with the use of bombs but the NAF had conducted rocket and cannon strikes on terror camps in Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto and Niger before.

HumAngle spoke with a reliable source familiar with air operations on the recent bombing and collateral damage concerns.

The source said that extensive use of ISR had been standard and would continue to be used effectively to ensure there was no collateral damage.

The source added that once non-combatants (women or children) were observed in an area, attacks were not carried out in line with standard operating procedures and rules of engagement.

“However, the areas where we are using more lethal force in the Northwest are areas which have been confirmed, even by other sources, including human intelligence and signal intelligence, to be solely occupied by the bandits,” the source said.

The scaling up of lethality in the region is connected with the activities of extremist organisations – Boko Haram and its splinter factions of Ansaru and Islamic State West Africa Province.

In a statement, the Defence Media Coordinator, Maj.-Gen. John Enenche, said the airstrike executed on September 13 resulted in the killing of several bandits belonging to the gang led by the so-called ‘Dangote’.

Enenche added that the target was designated for the attack after human intelligence reports and series of confirmatory aerial surveillance missions indicated that ‘Dangote’ and some of his members with their logistics items and rustled livestock, had established a new camp at the southern edge of the forest.

“The Air Component, therefore, dispatched an enhanced force package of Nigerian Air Force fighter jets and helicopter gunships to attack the location. The attack aircraft engaged the target area scoring accurate hits and taking out several of the bandits, while some of their structures were seen engulfed in flames. Sources later revealed that several of ‘Dangote’s followers were neutralised in the airstrike.”

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Murtala Abdullahi

Abdullahi Murtala is a researcher and reporter. His expertise is in conflict reporting, climate and environmental justice, and charting the security trends in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. He founded the Goro Initiative and contributes to dialogues, publications and think-tanks that report on climate change and human security. He tweets via @murtalaibin

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