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    Missing jet: Troops comb forests, PDP, Ndume express concern

    THE search for the missing Nigerian Air Force Alpha Jet entered its fourth day on Saturday with no sign of the wreckage of the aircraft.

    It was gathered that more troops and air assets had been deployed in the ongoing search of the jet which was believed to have crashed with two crew members, Flt Lts. John Abolarinwa and Ebiakpo Chapele.

    The jet lost radar contact on Wednesday while on a counterinsurgency mission against Boko Haram in Borno State.

    The NAF spokesperson, Edward Gabkwet, an air commodore, told our correspondent on Saturday that more assets and troops had been pressed into the search for the crashed jet.

    He said, “More troops and air assets are involved in the ongoing search for the missing aircraft but we are yet to locate the aircraft.”

    Boko Haram had claimed responsibility for downing the aircraft in a viral video on Friday.

    The Abubakar Shekau-led faction of the Boko Haram sect released the footage of a crashed jet with one of its fighters standing on the wreckage. A body was also seen in the wreckage of the aircraft.

    But the Air Force dismissed the claims by the terror group, noting that the clips posted online might be that of a previous incident.

    The Alpha Jet is a light attack and advanced jet trainer co-manufactured by Dassault Aviation of France and Dornier Flugzeugwerke of German in 1973.

    The NAF has 11 Alpha Jets in service with four upgraded in 2011, according to Wikipedia.

    Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party and the Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Ali Ndume, have expressed concern over conflicting reports and claims surrounding the ill-fated NAF fighter jet and its courageous pilots, who put their lives on the line for the security of our nation.

    The party, in a statement by its spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, on Saturday, charged the gallant troops at the front not to allow the situation to dampen their spirits.

    The PDP noted that all patriotic Nigerians, especially leaders and members of the party at the current crucial period, appreciate the sacrifices of the soldiers in defending the nation despite the odds.

    The party however urged the NAF to hasten its investigation on the matter so that Nigerians would be adequately informed.

    The party asked Nigerians to remain alert and continue to support and pray for our troops as they battle at the front, adding that every effort must be made to secure the nation from terrorists, insurgents and bandits.

    Ndume, in an interview with our correspondent on Saturday, sympathised with the NAF over the missing jet.

    He said, “I sympathise with officers and men of the NAF over the unfortunate loss of an alpha jet. I urge them to deploy necessary modern technology in search of the missing jet.”

    Copyright PUNCH.

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