The Nigerian Air Force has given a detailed account of how the Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation LAFIYA DOLE and Allied Air Forces provided air support to repel the attack by Boko Haram in Baga. The fishing town was attacked by so-called members of the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP), on the evening of December 26.
Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, NAF director of public relations and information, gave the account, detailing the dozens of aerial strikes against the positions of the terrorists, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports. “It may be recalled that the Headquarters 7 Brigade Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) Baga came under attack by members of the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) in the evening of December 26. “Upon receipt of the information of the attack, the Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation LAFIYA DOLE immediately dispatched a NAF Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), platform along with two Mi-35M Helicopter Gunships to provide support for the troops to repel the attack. “The NAF ISR aircraft, which was overhead the troops’ location as at 7.15pm, also worked closely with a NAF and another allied ISR aircraft that are also in the operation area at the time of the attack. “The ISR platforms were in contact with the ground troops and assisted in directing their fire against the terrorists, while the helicopter gunships engaged the terrorists at isolated locations destroying some of their vehicles and neutralising some fighters,” he said. He said the ATF also provided support for Nigerian Army (NA), and Nigerian Navy (NN), troops at the Naval Base at Doron Baga, “which equally came under attack by ISWAP fighters on the morning of December 27 “. According to Daramola, the ATF deployed two ISR platforms, two Helicopter Gunships and two Alpha Jet aircraft to provide ISR and close air support to the troops. “After establishing communication with the ground troops, the location of the terrorists was ascertained and engaged by the Alpha Jet aircraft. “The NAF and allied ISR platforms also spotted two ISWAP vehicles heading southwards from Baga and vectored the Alpha Jet aircraft to attack the vehicles, completely destroying one of them and neutralising the occupants. “In order to enhance the quality of coordination between the air and ground operations, the Theatre Commander and Maritime Component Commander were carried onboard the ISR platform during one of the flights,” he said. The spokesman said in all, the ATF conducted 20 missions in 21 sorties with a total of about 39 hours flown on December 26 and 27 in support of operations in Baga general area. “The NAF appreciates the existing synergy with our gallant surface forces as well as our Regional Allies in adding value to our collective efforts to protect our territory and people,” he said.
In a statement signed by the director of Army public relations, Brigadier General Sani Kukasheka Usman and made available to Legit news nigeria on Friday, December 28, the Army said the report by Sahara Reporters “alleging that such number of soldiers were trapped and the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) could not do anything to extricate them” is not only untrue but a deliberate mischief to create erroneous impression about the military. The Army explained that there was an ongoing clearing and mop up operations in Baga and nobody could give details of the encounter yet.