The Nigerian Air Force has dismissed as “misleading” insinuations that its platforms withdrew without engaging Boko Haram insurgents when they attacked Garkida community of Gombi Local Government Area of Adamawa State.
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, gave the clarifications while briefing newsmen on Sunday in Maiduguri, Borno State.
Abubakar said the Air Force responded to the night attack amid ensuing confusion in the town.
He added that it was difficult for the pilots to identify the insurgents and therefore refrained from bombing to avoid civilian casualties.
He said: “It is an unfortunate incident.
“War is tragic.
“In war, there are tragic events that you cannot rule out completely.
“Air Force was there, but the pilots used their Rules-of-Engagement to determine whether dropping bombs over Garkida would have killed more innocent people than the Boko Haram that attacked the town.
“After all, we can trace where the insurgents came from, which is exactly what we have done in the night.
“The IRS platform was on top and identified where they are.
“Early in the morning, our platforms attacked and neutralised them.
“They will never be around to kill anybody again.
“I think that makes more sense rather than you have an aircraft in the space.
“You are not sure who and where are the Boko Haram insurgents.
“Are you going to drop bombs on women and children and civilians? No we do not do that.
“We have Rules-of-Engagement.
“Where it is convenient to attack, we drop bombs.
“Where we think it makes more sense to hold on and get the criminals who are the real people we want to deal with to where we can deal with them without killing innocent persons.
“And that was what the pilots did and it is an excellent decision.”
Abubakar sympathised with the families and victims of the attack, assuring them that NAF had successfully neutralised the insurgents hibernating in the area.
The CAS reiterated NAF’s commitment to end insurgency, protect lives and property as well as national territorial integrity.