A Nigerian fighter plane which hunts down kidnappers in northern Nigeria has been shot down by criminal gangs, the military says.
The Alpha Jet had completed a successful raid when it came under intense fire on Sunday, says a spokesman for the Nigerian Air Force.
He said that the pilot , Flight Lt Abayomi Dairo had to eject and use ”survival instincts” to avoid being captured by these bandits. So he found shelter with the local residents.
This attack took place on the border of Zamfara and Kaduna state.
These armed gangs have been blamed for the recent kidnappings in this part of north-western Nigeria. Many students and schoolchildren have been targeted – it is said by officials that more than 1,000 have been kidnapped since December and some have been freed once ransom was paid but some have also been killed.
The president Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the military to eradicate the criminal elements in the states of Katsina , Zamfara and Kaduna.
“Through these intensive air operations, hundreds of bandits have been neutralised and several of their hideouts destroyed,” the Nigerian Air Force said in a statement.
There have been several military plane crashes this year but this is the first reported case of armed gangs shooting down a plane.
The country has bought 12 A-29 Super Tucano aircraft from the US at a cost of $496m (£350m) – and is set to receive the first six this month.