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Locals believe chopper that crashed was used by terrorists

19 August 2014, 13:36 Peregrino Brimah

There is very uncomfortable news out of Borno once again further demonstrating the degree of distrust between locals and the Nigerian military drafted to the plagued region. The Nigerian military Mi-35 helicopter that reportedly crashed in Bama earlier this month apparently suffered gunfire, but not from terrorists, according to the latest reports we are receiving from trusted locals. National defense spokesperson Chris Olukolade reported that the crash was ‘not due to enemy action.’

Information gathered by ENDS in Borno has it that locals are confident that this chopper was one of two military helicopters used by Boko Haram terrorists.

It has been repeatedly reported that certain helicopters have been seen giving cover to Boko Haram during their attacks on the Nigerian military and civilian-JTF, CJTF. These mysterious choppers have been reported taking off and landing in Sambisa forest supplying the terrorists and also being used by them. This chopper was allegedly engaged as usual firing on Nigerian soldiers who were battling terrorists in Damboa and it was there that it took fire from soldiers on the ground. The damaged chopper allegedly flew off crashing through electric cables, which severed power supply to Maiduguri, the state capital.

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A Nigerian investigative editorial, NewsRescue reported July 7th that the Nigerian colonel, Abubakar Chamba who was killed while in combat with Boko Haram in the terrorist attack at Bulabulin Ngaura in Damboa local government, was actually shot at by the Nigerian air force who came to ‘assist.’ This scary sabotage event among others (some of which have been reported by global media like the BBC and VOA) has precipitated a massive efflux of Nigerian soldiers, deserting the army in numbers as many as 100+ every week. Chief of Army Staff, Lt. - Gen. Kenneth Minimah confirmed the unprecedented abandonment of service last week.

On the crash incident, spokesperson Chris Olukolade earlier suggested that two of the crew died, but later delivered that the Engineer was later found alive. He said, “The crew member who was declared missing when his body could not be located in the vicinity of the crash resurfaced at the military Headquarters in Maiduguri today, having trekked back to base through the bushes after the crash.” In all, the co-pilot, Flight Lieutenant NM Halilu, and the aircraft technician, Warrant Officer Augustine Nwanonenyi, survived the crash while Flight Lieutenant Onyeka Nwakile is dead/MIA.

Villagers in Gamboru-Ngala, Kala Balge and Bama have been reportedly celebrating the firing down of what they believe to be the Boko Haram-employed military chopper. The villagers report that there is another chopper the terrorists also use, which has a red-colored underbody which is still at large.

Also Read: When did the Nigerian Army become a menace?

A report in SaharaReporters on July 24th, relayed that soldiers who went to rescue the copter occupants and destroy the craft noticed “the helicopter had a strange red marking in its underbelly,” which they believed was as a result of it “taking gun fire.” With the Nigerian military spokesperson, Chris Olukolade categorically declaring that the copter did not take enemy fire but crashed “due to technical fault” [Vanguard, July 21, 2014], the only plausible explanation of the under-body red markings that baffled the soldiers as noted in the report, is a unique terrorist identifier. Taking fire is not associated with marking red.

It is possible that the military copters used by the terrorists have been marked with this red paint to distinguish them so when their military friend-saboteurs are flying to supply them in Sambisa or to assist them in battles, the terrorists spot the red belly and know not to fire at the choppers. We advise the military to check all helicopters engaged in the mission for which ones have red underbellys and note the designated pilots who fly these.

We have been unable to confirm this report as our attempts to reach members of the Nigerian military have thus far been abortive.

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