The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has bombarded an estimated 157 square kilometers of Sambisa Forests as it sustained aerial bombardment with over 280 operational sorties conducted against terrorists targets in the area in the last one month.
The Deputy Theatre Commander Air of Operation Lafiya Dole, AVM Isiaka Amao, stated this at a media briefing in Maiduguri, saying the air strikes and bombardments were conducted by the Air Component of the Operation Lafiya Dole in the North-East.
AVM Amao said that the ongoing and sustained air operations and surveillance within the theatre of operation in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States were intensified between December 2015 and January 2016 towards ending the Boko Haram menace.
“In continuation of the counter insurgency, the air component in the last one month conducted 286 operational sorties against terrorists’ targets from 25 December to date in the Sambisa forest covering an area of 157,000km2 which is equivalent to the total land mass of South Korea, Portugal and Togo in a total of 536 hours, 21 minutes were flown by various platforms engaged in the operations,
“This translates into 316,637.5 litres of aviation fuel which amounts to N60.3 million, excluding the cost of maintenance and armament expended,” he said.
He further explained that prominent operations among the missions carried out included an air strike on 25 December last year where some terrorists’ leaders and junior commanders, who gathered for a leadership meeting in Sambisa Forest, were neutralized by a precision strike which led to the killing of several Boko haram terrorists.
There was also a significant strike conducted on January 17, 2016 following intelligence report on the location of a High Value Terrorists (Boko Haram HVT) leader taking refuge at a location South of Arra village in the Sambisa Forest, where air strikes neutralized the target.
He added that some areas of the successful airstrikes conducted to include; Gadzama, Ngwalimiri, Dure and Dure Takwalla, Ajigin, Bitta, Gulumba Gana, Sigel, Damasak and Kumshe communities now occupied by insurgents.
Other areas that came under strike include; Yajiwa, Asaga, Tumbun Gini and Mada towns, amongst others, as well as medical evacuation missions which were also carried out at Marte Local Government area and Banki town of Borno State on 21 January this year.
The Deputy Theatre Commander Air Operation however maintained that the Nigerian Air Force through its Component in Operation Lafiya Dole is focused on sustaining air operations and providing support to ground troops of the Armed Forces’ strive to rid Nigeria of the Boko Haram insurgency.
AVM Amao added that all the areas struck were thoroughly monitored on intelligence surveillance and eye services before the attacks or shelling. Most of the targets included Boko Haram fuel pump storages, solar panels, meeting points and hideouts in the Sambisa forests as most of the areas were identified first before the air strikes.