On April 2, the Jama’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jihad (JAS), commonly known as Boko Haram, confirmed that its fighters had shot down an Alpha Jet of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF).
The NAF lost contact with the French-made jet over the northeastern state of Borno on March 31. Edward Gabkwet, a spokesman for the air force, said that the jet was on interdiction mission in support of ground troops.
A video shared by JAS shows the fighter jet bursting into flames as it falls from the sky. The video also shows footage of the jet’s wreckage.
The Alpha Jet may have been targeted with a man-portable air-defense system. A more logical explanation is that the fighter jet was hit with a heavy machine gun. Boko Haram fighters are in possession of many types of heavy machine guns.
The fate of the jet’s two pilots remains uncertain. According to the NAF, a large search operation to rescue the pilots is ongoing in Borno.
“Extensive search and rescue efforts are still ongoing by NAF surveillance aircraft as well as NAF Special Forces and Nigerian Army troops on ground,” air force spokesman said. “At this point, the NAF is not ruling out anything regarding the incident. It however remains hopeful that the crew would soon be found and rescued.”
Under the leadership of Abubakar Shekau, JAS joined ISIS branch in West Africa in 2015 only to leave the group a few years later due to disagreements on leadership issues.
Currently, JAS and ISIS are both present and active against Nigerian government forces in Borno. The situation in the state is only getting worse, especially in the areas bordering Lake Chad.
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