The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has explained why it could not open fire as Boko Haram attacked people in Garkida, a town in Gombi local government area of Adamawa state.
The air force had been accused by members of the community of hovering and doing nothing as insurgents attacked people in the town last week.
Ibikunle Daramola, spokesman of the force, while reacting to the accusation said they didn’t want to kill innocent people.
He said the force cannot responded quickly to the calls for air support by dispatching its aircraft to the location.
“Close air support, by definition, requires detailed coordination between the aircraft and the forces or individuals being supported,” he said.
“Hence, there must be communication between the aircraft, which is thousands of feet in the air, and the ground elements so as to avoid collateral damage or attacking one’s own troops (fratricide). As you may have come to know, the situation on the ground in Garkida on 21 February 2020 was extremely chaotic with significant movement in the general area that were indistinguishable from the air.
“The situation was worsened by the fact that the attack mostly took place at night. In such situations, the rules of engagement, as internationally known, is not to attack unless it is clear that no civilians are in harm’s way. The essence is to avoid the inadvertent killing of the people that the aircraft were dispatched to protect. It must be noted that the NAF ISR and attack aircraft remained airborne to provide support while seeking to de-conflict targets before engaging them; this was done outside the vicinity of the town in order to avoid killing any innocent civilians.
“Furthermore, as a follow-up, the Air Task Force of Operation LAFIYA DOLE, on 22/23 February 2020, carried out air strikes against terrorists’ hideouts at Parisu in the Sambisa general area of Borno State, where the Boko Haram elements that attacked Garkida were said to have originated. The battle damage assessment video of the attacks will be released, once declassified.”