The Defence Headquarters, Abuja, has sworn to avenge the death of a pilot of the Nigeria Air Force who was claimed to have been beheaded in a new video released by Boko Haram.
The Nation reports that DHQ in a reaction to the incident ordered massive air strikes on the Boko Haram sect, as well as take delivery of Cobra gunships soonest.
The order was given after the DHQ had earlier on Friday debunked the claims of the pilot being killed by theterrorists, but friends of the pilot on Saturday, took the social media and made clarifications that it was indeed the pilot that was killed. The friends who called themselves the Nigerian Army Support Group gave the name of the deceased pilot as Chimda Hedima, a 39-year-old Wing Commander with the Nigerian Air Force.
The friends who described the deceased as a true Nigerian hero revealed that on September 11, 2014, troops of Nigerian Army were trying to overrun terrorists position in Borno State, but as a result of low altitude, the plane suffered significant damage from the terrorists’ gunfire and the Wing Commander Hedima and his colleague knew they were going to crash.
“They, instead of hurriedly parachuting to safety within Nigerian controlled territory, chose to embark on a mission to destroy as many terrorists and their weapons as possible. They parachuted out at the last minute but not before ensuring their plane slammed into a column of terrorists; 63 Boko Haram members were killed as a result of their bravery. Wing Commander Hedima was captured. On 12/09/14, he was killed. He chose Nigeria, he chose all of us. We cannot forget him. Please share his story. His name should be known by everyone. Rest in peace, Commander, we are grateful. May you find eternal peace. Thank you for your service,” the friends said.
However, the DHQ on Saturday assured Nigerians that aside it’s missing pilot, soldiers would continue to engage the terrorists and decisively put an end to their activities.
A military source who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “In spite of whatever the insurgents may claim, I can tell you that the battle has shifted more to the air than land. The military has ordered more air strikes against all the positions or camps of Boko Haram. We will bombard the insurgents into submission. They cannot intimidate our jet fighters. As a matter of fact, more pilots are willing to join the aerial raid. It is going to be a battle to the finish. More fighter jets have been deployed in the relevant areas in strategic manner. The purported shooting down of 10 aircraft is a hoax.”
The source while answering a question from the journalist said: “We are not only after those who claimed to have beheaded a pilot; we will deal with all the leaders of the sect and their members. We have the capacity to take the battle to them. We will engage these insurgents and overcome them.”
Meanwhile, it was gathered that the Nigerian military has already given an order to AH-1 Cobra helicopters for attacks on Boko Haram enclaves in Sambisa Forest and the hilly terrains of Gwoza and Madagali in Borno and Adamawa states.
According to another source within the DHQ, the AH-1 Cobra helicopters are good for the terrain in the North-East, especially as it has also been used by several other countries like the United States, adding that other countries have used gunships in the past.
“The Cobra helicopters were deployed by the US during the Vietnam War. The situation in Sambisa Forest could be likened to what was then obtainable in Vietnam,” the source said.
The Huey Cobra gave support for ground forces during the Vietnam War. The AH-1, with the company designation: model 209 is a two-blade, single engine attack helicopter produced by Bell Helicopter. It was constructed using the engine, transmission and rotor system of the Bell’s UH-1 Iroquois.
It would be recalled the on October 3, 2014, a new video produced by Boko Haram showsbeheading of a pilot from a missing Nigerian Air Force (NAF) jet.