Wreckage Of Missing Air Force Jet Reportedly Found In Borno
There are indications that the wreckage of the missing Alpha jet belonging to the Nigerian Air Force has been found in Konduga Local Government Area of Borno State which is about 30 kilometres outside of Maiduguri, the state capital.
Although the Air Force authorities are yet to confirm this development, sources on Friday said the fighter jet was seen flying around Goni Kurmiri and Njimia villages after attacking terrorist locations at the Sambisa axis.
The sources, however, did not give any information about the whereabouts of the pilot and the co-pilot.
Air Force authorities had announced that the plane lost contact with the radar on Wednesday evening while on an interdiction mission in support of ground troops as part of the ongoing counterinsurgency operations in the northeast.
Earlier on Friday, the Air Force also announced the possibility that the plane may have crashed.
According to a statement issued by the NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, the aircraft marked – NAF475 – had two crew members on board when it went missing on Wednesday in Borno State.
While the cause of the crash and the whereabouts of the crew members who are NAF personnel remain unknown, the pilots were identified as Flight Lieutenant John Abolarinwa and Flight Lieutenant Ebiakpo Chapele.
Meanwhile, a faction of Boko Haram has claimed that it shot down the plane with some of the pictures showing the wreckage of a plane now being circulated on social media.
According to a video released on Friday, the terrorists claimed responsibility for shooting down a Nigerian fighter jet.
The video, which could not be verified by Channels Television, was released on a Boko Haram social media channel showing a militant standing on what the group claims are the wreckage of the jet. It shows the Nigerian flag and number NAF 475 on its fuselage.
“Nigeria air force jet fighter… was sent to Sambisa to fight the Mujahideen,” the militant said.
Nigeria’s military have been battling jihadists in the northeast of the country for more than a decade and have recently been fighting them in their stronghold in Sambisa forest in Borno state.
In 2014, Boko Haram said it shot down another Nigerian air force jet and showed a video claiming to have beheaded its pilot.
Since the Islamist insurgency broke out in 2009, the conflict has killed around 36,000 people in the region and displaced some two million from their homes.
The violence has also spread to neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
The Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) split from Boko Haram in 2016 and has since become a prominent threat, attacking soldiers and bases while killing and kidnapping civilians.
At the start of the year, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed new military commanders after coming under pressure to better tackle insecurity and inject new life into the armed forces.