The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has denied speculations by the Zamfara council of chiefs, that civilians were killed in airstrikes in the state.
The NAF spokesman, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, made the clarification during a press briefing at the HQ NAF on Thursday, April 18.
Air Commodore Daramola noted that before any attack mission is conducted or any target is engaged, the NAF ensures that it carries out detailed Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions.
He added that as a follow-up, reliable credible human intelligence is also carried out to ensure proper targeting in order to, as much as possible, avoid collateral damage.
He continued: “Furthermore, as standard practice, NAF attack aircraft on air interdiction missions are accompanied by ISR platforms that guide them to designated targets.
“Moreover, NAF pilots, by training and in line with extant rules of engagement for any operation, do not attack any location if it is observed that non-combatants are present.
“As a responsible Service, the NAF also wishes to clarify that in all its air strikes in the north west, bombs were never used.
“This has been deliberately done in view of the nature of threat as well as the operational environment, despite the fact that the armed bandits have anti-aircraft gun in their possession.
“The allegation that bombs were used is therefore not only false but out rightly misleading.”
He, however, revealed that in the light of the allegation, the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has ordered a high powered panel of inquiry to investigate the veracity or otherwise of the claim.
He said the panel will be headed by an Air Vice Marshal and will work with the Zamfara state government as well as the Zamfara state council of chiefs and other stakeholders.
“At the end of the investigation, members of the public would be duly informed,” he added.
He assured that the NAF would not relent in its unwavering commitment to sustain its operations to flush out armed bandits from Zamfara and its environs in collaboration with other security agencies.
The Zamfara state council of chiefs had on Wednesday, April 17, listed not less than 11 indigenes allegedly killed by a NAF fighter jet
The chiefs, represented by the Emir of Bungudu Alhaji Hassan Attahiru, said that the houses of 20 persons were also destroyed by in the raids.
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