Fulani Herdsmen armed with various weapons and artillery attempted to shoot down an Alpha Jet and the EC 135 Helicopter deployed by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) in retaliation to intrusive tactical manoeuvres by the NAF in the conflicted regions of Numan and Demsa Local Government Areas of Adamawa State.
The herdsmen, dressed in black, allegedly fired at the fighter aircraft’s which were on orders to only fire warning shots and not to kill any of the attackers
Correspondents from Punch tabloid reported two weeks ago that the NAF, on the invitation of the Nigerian Army in Adamawa, deployed some fighter aircraft to support the ground forces in stopping the crisis.
Air Vice-Marshal Olatokunbo Adesanya, the NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, confirmed the deployment of the air assets, saying it would be “a continuous exercise.”
Many buildings were burnt down and dozens killed while many civilians have fled it has been confirmed by the Adawama police. According to them, ravaging Fulani militia have moved on Dong and Lawura villages in the Demsa LGA, with many missing.
The police added that “six police officers were killed in the attack between herdsmen and farmers.”
On Wednesday a report from a top air force source on the operation stated that the herdsmen attempted to bring down the aircraft.
“A lot of damage had been done in Numan already by the gunmen before the fighter aircraft moved in. We actually caught the gunmen doing more damage and they needed to be stopped. So, we fired warning shots ahead of them. They were with a vast number of cows and they moved the cows under a shed as they set more buildings in the area on fire.
“At some point, the gunmen actually started firing at our aircraft. There was a bridge on that way to Jalingo, Taraba State, where they finally ran to. The Alpha Jet was not asked to bomb them. It did not actually carry bombs. We were on an internal security operation and a fundamental principle of such operation was the use of minimum force.”
AVM Adesanya spokesman of the Air force said “The NAF aircraft sighted a large number of hoodlums, our intervention was based on a request by the 3 Division, Nigerian Army. It was not a full deployment. We rather diverted our air assets from the bases in Maiduguri, Borno State, and Yola, Adamawa State.
“When our aircraft were called in, they sighted a large number of hoodlums. The hoodlums were dressed mostly in black. They were obviously causing mayhem. The whole idea was that the aircraft flew at low passage to cause the hoodlums to disperse.”