Nigerian warplane crashed in Niger today Monday May 6th, from where it was
conducting military operations in neighbouring Mali, and the two pilots
were killed, Nigeria's army said in a statement.
jet was part of Nigeria's air fleet engaged with an African force
battling hardline Islamists in Mali. An army source in Niamey said it
had suffered a "mechanical" problem.
"A Nigerian Air Force Alpha jet aircraft on a non-combattant mission
crashed today at Dargol village...The two pilots on board the fighter
jet died," the Nigerian defence headquarters said in a statement.
The jet is one of four Nigerian aircraft based in Niamey as part of of
the Africa-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA), it said,
adding that the crash was being investigated.
French and Chadian planes and US drones have used the Niamey airport as a base for their operations in Mali.
The 6,000-strong AFISMA has taken over the lead from France in
supporting Mali's army in the battle against Al-Qaeda-linked extremists.
A French-led operation launched in January drove the Islamists from key
cities they had seized in northern Mali. But the Islamists have turned
to suicide bombings and guerrilla attacks in reclaimed territory.
AFISMA will eventually be incorporated into a 12,600-strong
peacekeeping force, following a UN resolution in April.