NAF has deployed no fewer than six fighter and surveillance aircraft to the general area of the Headquarters of the 7 Brigade Multinational Joint Task Force, Baga, Borno State, which was attacked by Boko Haram terrorists on Wednesday and Thursday.
The deployment was done to combat the Islamic State of West African faction of the Boko Haram fighters who attacked the Baga area days ago, as well as to locate scores of Nigerian soldiers said to have been displaced from the headquarters following the attacks.
The Baga invasion followed another attack about four weeks after the ISWAP fighters overran the army base in the Metele area on November 18, killing 23 soldiers and injuring 31 others, according to figures released by the Nigerian Army.
Military sources in the North-East said the Boko Haram’s increasing attacks on army bases were signs of desperation on the part of the insurgents to steal highly priced and valuable Nigerian Army food and weapons.
The sources said the insurgents’ means of finance from its international networks were being cut off due to the power tussle among their factional leaders, which has forced the terrorists to resort to forcefully taking away military weapons.
Army bases on the edge of the Lake Chad area or northern Borno were the most targeted because the insurgents had established escape avenues into the Niger Republic, Chad, and Cameroon after their attacks.
An Airforce spokesperson shared: “The military ISR aircraft is monitoring and looking for every possible gathering and suspicious movements to know the next line of action.
“The Boko Haram knows that the military is blocking their channels of supply by establishing bases along the Lake Chad area and the terrorists are not happy.
“There are internal leadership tussles among them and they, therefore, cannot afford to buy ammunition again. This is why they target military bases to get more weapons. The weapons they stole during the Metele attack could be what they used to attack Baga. The terrorists are desperate to steal more and more weapons. They also sell those weapons to make money for themselves.”
The NAF, on Friday, confirmed the deployments of an Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance aircraft and two Mi-35M Helicopter Gunships in Baga by the Air Task Force of the Operation Lafiya Dole.
The NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, said within two days, the air force had conducted 20 missions in 21 sorties and flown 39 hours on December 26 and 27 in support of operations in the Baga general area.
He said, “The Headquarters 7 Brigade Multinational Joint Task Force, Baga, came under attack by members of the ISWAP and upon receipt of that information, the Air Task Force immediately dispatched a Nigerian Air Force ISR platform along with two Mi-35M Helicopter Gunships to provide support for the troops to repel the attack."