The Nigerian Air Force has vehemently denied report that its air strikes against bandits in Zamfara State were killing innocent villagers.
NAF claimed that their fighter jets destroy the bandits logistics base located in Ajia in Birnin Magaji Local Government Area of the state.
The Traditional Rulers in the state had however reported that NAF air strikes missed their target and killed innocent people instead of the bandits.
Alhaji Hassan Attahiru, the Emir of Bungudu, who spoke on behalf of the emirs in the state noted that the air strikes did not hit the camps of the bandits according to reports from Gusau, Tsafe, Anka and Zurmi LGAs.
The NAF in its response to the traditional rulers however asked the monarchs to produce evidence that innocent people were killed in the air strike.
Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, the NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, in a statement said;
“The Air Force finds such reports rather ridiculous because most of the locations attacked are within the Rugu, Sububu and Kagara forests general area, which are known bandits’ hideouts that have been attacked in the past, without any outcry.
“The NAF’s target selection for operations is particularly rigorous in order to ensure a proper target identification to prevent strikes on wrong locations. The locations attacked in Zamfara were selected based on human intelligence reports obtained from security agencies and other government sources, traditional and community leaders as well as reliable, vetted informants.
“These were all further confirmed after days of detailed day and night Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance missions to ensure a proper targeting for avoidance of collateral damage.
“The NAF finds it rather mischievous that anyone will spread such a deliberate misinformation. NAF requests anyone with evidence to the effect that innocent civilians were targeted by the air strikes to produce such evidence. The NAF, as a professional service, will not take issue with any group of individuals, including traditional rulers, but will rather remain committed to ensuring the safety and security of all Nigerians.”
“As a standard practice, NAF attack aircraft on air interdiction missions are accompanied by ISR platforms that guide them to designated targets.
“Furthermore, NAF pilots, in line with extant Rules of Engagement, do not attack any location if it is observed that non-combatants, especially women and children are present. In such cases, the pilots would rather return to the base with their munitions unexpended. Consequently, it is inconceivable that the NAF would attack locations where innocent civilians reside.”