MILITARY commanders have launched a new air campaign codenamed Operation Rattle Snake involving the Nigerian Air Force (Naf) launching missile strikes against Boko Haram positions in Borno State.
Since 2009, Boko Haram have been waging a war against the Nigerian state across the northeast of the country as the sect seeks to establish an Islamic theocracy. Nigeria has responded with an offensive named Operation Lafiya Dole, to clear the area of the insurgents but despite recent successes, the military has been unable to finish off Boko Haram, who still mount sporadic raids.
In what appears to be a renewed offensive to beat the terrorists from the air, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, Naf’s director of public relations and information, said Boko Haram will now be targeted with air strikes. He added that the air interdiction operation, which commenced yesterday, would target selected locations across the northeast to further degrade remnants of the terrorists as well as deny them safe havens and freedom of action.
Commodore Daramola said: “On day one of the operations, airstrikes by Naf aircraft resulted in the neutralisation of several Boko Haram terrorists and the destruction of some of their structures at their tactical headquarters in Parisu, as well as another settlement, Garin Maloma, both on the fringes of the Sambisa Forest in Borno State. Overhead Parisu, no fewer than 30 terrorists were observed by the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft in different parts of the settlement.
“The attack aircraft dispatched to engage the location recorded accurate hits within the target area, leading to the destruction of some of the structures as well as the killing of several terrorists. Other fighters, who attempted to flee while putting up a fight, were taken out by follow-on strikes at their hiding places under some trees as well as along the river line at the edge of the settlement.”
He added that the Naf, operating in concert with surface forces, would sustain its efforts to completely destroy all remnants of the terrorists across northeast Nigeria. Since the war against Boko Haram intensified, both the US and Russia have promised to support the Nigerian military with combat aircraft.