From Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) said its fighter jets have bombarded terrorists’ logistics base in Kaduna State, killing 18 terrorists, including their kingpin, one Alhaji Shanono.
The air strike conducted by the Air Component of Operation Whirl Punch, followed intelligence that Alhaji Shanono had scheduled a meeting with his foot soldiers at Ukambo village, about 131 kilometres from Kaduna, the state capital.
NAF Director, Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, who made the disclosure in a statement, said 30 rifles and 20 motorbikes were destroyed during the air strike, leaving several terrorists with various gunshot injuries, while 26 kidnapped victims held by the bandits were rescued.
He said in the Northwest, specifically, the effect of strikes undertaken by NAF aircraft revealed that several terrorists had been eliminated and their enclaves destroyed. He said one of such strikes, which occurred on August 9, 2022 resulted in the elimination of a well known terrorist leader who operated in Kaduna State.
“Indeed, following receipt of intelligence on August 9, 2022, that a well known terrorists’ kingpin, Alhaji Shanono, had scheduled a meeting with his foot soldiers at Ukambo, a village about 131km from Kaduna, the air component of Operation Whirl Punch dispatched aircraft for interdiction mission at the location. Overhead the location, terrorists were sighted under clusters of trees at the foot of Ukambo high ground, and after ensuring the absence of civilian settlements within the location, the crew received the authorisation to strike.
“Feedback from local sources disclosed that over 30 rifles and 20 motorbikes were destroyed, while about 18 terrorists, including Alhaji Shanono, were neutralised, while others sustained various degrees of injuries. Sources also revealed that not less than 26 kidnapped victims earlier held by the terrorists were released as a result of the airstrike.
“Similar strikes were also undertaken in the Northeast as well. There, the air component of Operation Hadin Kai had their tasks well cut out for them as they had been fully engaged in conducting air interdiction missions on terrorists’ targets in Borno State. One of such operations was conducted on August 6, 2022, at Gazuwa, about 1.2 kilometres to Gargash, after intelligences revealed that infighting for relevance and supremacy was underway between terrorists of the Shekau faction and terrorists aligned to Islamic State of West Africa (ISWAP).
“The state of confusion and disorder among the two terrorists’ factions, thus, presented an opportunity for a surprise strike by NAF pilots, which was carried out using two aircraft types. It should be noted that though the map coordinates led the pilots to the exact site of the infighting, the location also had an ISWAP flag hoisted on the structure and three solar panels on the rooftop.
“Intelligence received and corroborated by local sources revealed the strike was a success, as the terrorists did not anticipate it with several of them eliminated and others injured. The impact of the strikes was said to have reverberated through the remaining terrorists’ camps who were beginning to realise that they were fighting an unjust and lost cause that would no doubt lead to their death. Most were said to be contemplating surrendering just like others before them.”
Meanwhile, sources confirmed that the Nigerian military were exuding so much confidence, especially with the level of successes being recorded. They were also optimistic that the counterterrorism strategies and efforts would, in no distant time, yield the expected outcome even beyond the northeast.