According to the statement issued by the spokesman of the Nigerian Air Force, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet said the aircraft crashed in Chukuba Village, Niger and a prior investigation had been initiated to ascertain the cause of the air mishap.
“A Nigerian Air Force MI-171 Helicopter on a casualty evacuation mission crashed today, 14 August 2023 at about 1.00 pm near Chukuba Village in Niger State.
“The aircraft had departed Zungeru Primary School en route Kaduna but was later discovered to have crashed near Chukuba Village in Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State.
“Efforts are currently ongoing to rescue the crew and passengers on board the helicopter while preliminary investigations have commenced to determine the probable cause of the crash,” it said.
In another development, IdanNews learnt that the Nigeria Air Force on Monday also confirmed the crash of its trainer aircraft in Makurdi, the Benue State capital. The incident occurred while the aircraft was on a routine training exercise.
NAF statement said two pilots successfully ejected from the aircraft, and that there was no loss of lives or damage to any property around the area of impact.
Dogo Giede terroir face-off
Furthermore, the reports from Chikuba in the Shiroro Local Government area of Niger State, had it that the Dogo Giede terrorist group might have shot down the helicopter, contrary to the official position.
The Dogogidie terrorist group, according to reports, operated in the forests in Zamfara, Niger and Kaduna States.
It was, however, learnt that immediately after the terrorists shot down the helicopter the military started to bombard the terrorists, killing many of the bandits in the process.
Consequently, the reaction of the military immediately caused panic around Chikuba town, leading to hundreds of villagers flocking to Erena for safety.
Co-Convener of the Concerned Shiroro Youth, Comrade Abubakar Yussuf Kokki said that there was panic and fear among the people as a result, adding that, “The people are moving in large numbers to Erena for safety.
Aside from shooting down the fighter helicopter and killing the pilot, the bandits, he said, also ambushed and killed 13 soldiers along the Zungeru-Tegina road in Madaka Ward of Rafi Local Government Area of the state.
Already, heavily armed soldiers in several trucks were noticed in Minna on Sunday evening moving towards Kundu town in Wushishi Local Government Area, where 13 soldiers and some men of the local vigilante group were killed Sunday afternoon.
It was also gathered that the soldiers succeeded in killing not less than 50 of the terrorists.
However, the Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District, Mohammed Sani Musa, lamented the situation, and described it as “highly unfortunate”.
He, therefore, called on the federal government to dispatch all its military and security arsenals to the troubled areas to save innocent lives and their property.
“This is a very serious situation happening at a time we are happy that the issue of banditry is subsiding in our various communities in Niger State. The federal government should, as a matter of urgency, deploy all its arsenal to curtail further spread.”
Meanwhile, no fewer than 12 Security operatives were on Sunday killed by bandits in Niger State.
The security operatives, among them a senior officer in one of the forces, were made up of men of the national security forces and those of the local vigilante group.
According to reports, the incident, which occurred around Kundu in the Rafi Local Government area of the state, recorded that not less than 10 other security men were injured in the face-off with bandits.
According to the source, about 50 bandits were killed in the encounter with their bodies left in the forest while those that were injured were ferried away by members of their gang.
It was gathered that a helicopter was used to pick up the dead, who were first deposited at the Federal Medical Centre, Zingeru before a vehicle came yesterday morning to evacuate the corpses to an unknown destination.