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Gunmen in Bayelsa attack Air Force helipad, kill airman


• Air vice marshal orders investigation
Unknown gunmen in the early hours of Sunday attacked a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) helipad in Igbodene, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, killing an airman and making away with his rifle.

The incident is a disturbing addition to a growing list of attacks by criminal elements in the oil-rich state. In March, armed men invaded Ayama community in Ogbia Local Government Area of the state, killing four persons. The following month, assassins shot dead Mr. Ebikimi okoringa, a newly appointed aide, to the state governor, Seriake Dickson.

The helipad, a favourite landing site for high-profile visitors to Bayelsa including security chiefs and top government officials, is surrounded by dense vegetation.


A security source, pleading anonymity, said: “The helipad is surrounded by bush. So it was easy for the gunmen to attack it. When they came, they shot the airman at the security post and took his rifle. When the second airman heard the gunshot, he rushed to the site and saw his colleague lying dead.”

He added: “Activities on the 2019 elections have started and hoodlums are looking for weapons. This is one of the ways they go about it. Security operatives should increase their level of alertness.”

Bayelsa State Police Commissioner, Don Awunah, confirmed the incident at a press briefing yesterday. He, however, said details remained sketchy. The Nigerian Air Force Headquarters also confirmed the attack, saying personnel on duty repelled it in a shootout.

A statement by the Director, NAF Public Relations, Air Vice Marshal Olatokunbo Adesanya, said the incident happened in the early hours of Sunday, as a group of unknown gunmen attacked the guard post at the NAF’s helipad.

“Although the NAF personnel on duty were able to repel the attack, an airman paid the supreme sacrifice in the process. The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has ordered an immediate investigation to unravel the circumstances surrounding the incident,” the statement reads.

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