One of the bandit leaders operating in the North West, Ali Kachalla, has reportedly been identified as the mastermind of the downing of the fighter jet of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) in July.
The fighter jet was returning from an air interdiction mission between the boundaries of Zamfara and Kaduna States when it came under heavy fire from bandits and crashed in Zamfara.
Pilot of the jet, Flight Lieutenant Abayomi Dairo, however, survived the attack after he successfully ejected from the aircraft.
According to Daily Trust, Kachalla’s men, who have their hideout in Kuyambana, brought down the jet near Kabaru village, located some 15km west of Dansadau town.
The medium reported that shooting down the NAF jet might be Kachalla’s most daring exploit yet, adding that he would have captured the pilot if not for residents of the troubled Dansadau district.
Kachalla, the newspaper said, has stepped up attacks on Dansadau town to protest the blocking of supplies to him from the town and the villagers’ help in the escape of the military pilot who he wanted to capture alive.
He is said to have carried out a series of brutal attacks on communities in the district and he is known to take special interest in ambushing military personnel.
Kachalla, who is said to be in his thirties, is said to be controlling over 200 armed men in Kuyambana forest.
“His settlement consisting of several strings of thatched huts is on Birnin Gwari side of the river. But, his large herd of cattle being manned by his heavily armed boys is based in Zamfara State.
“As I’m talking to you his boys can be found in Dandalla, Madada and Gobirawa Kwacha communities. The villages are all situated South East of Dansadau town. They are all being controlled by the armed men, ” the medium quoted a source in the area who craved anonymity.
Kachalla’s men are described as “fearless fighters” who have been laying ambush for security operatives for a long time. His boys are also said to outnumber most of the other gangs in the area.
In one of the attacks, his men reportedly set an armoured personnel carrier ablaze, after chasing security forces deployed to the town.
“Dansadau community has drawn the ire of Kachalla and his boys after local traders were blocked from selling food to him.
“There are some unscrupulous elements among the local traders who still take bread, soft drinks and other groceries to the bandits in the forest,” another source told Daily Trust.
The NAF is yet to provide any update on the attack.