South African troops as well as other foreign soldiers have joined in Nigeria’s offensive against Boko Haram insurgents in the nation’s north east region, engaging in ground combat and flying combat air sorties.
According to VOA, the Federal Government explained that the foreign military personnel were only advisers accompanying military equipment purchased from South Africa, Russia and Ukraine.
However, it appears the soldiers are also actively combating the insurgents as Nigerian soldiers disputed the government’s claim and disclosed that many of the soldiers were participating in actual combat, VOA reported on Thursday.
Activities of the extremist group seeking to impose Islamic rule in the region have caused the death of several thousands and displaced over 1 million people in northern Nigeria.
“One soldier, who is living alongside the foreign personnel in a barracks in the city of Maiduguri, identified the foreigners as South Africans, Ukrainians and others. He said they were flying aircraft from the Maiduguri airport.”
“The South Africans don’t want to deploy with any Nigerian military units, they want to go on their own,” the sergeant, who was not authorized to speak to the media, told VOA.
“The white soldiers, they were the only ones who knew how to operate the mobile rocket launchers,” the corporal said.
The corporal, who was also based in the barracks in Maiduguri, said South African pilots had been flying combat missions using Nigerian jets, surveillance planes and helicopters, along with jets he said appeared to be South African.
“All the aerial attacks are being done by the white soldiers using Nigerian and hired military aircraft,” he said.
Another officer, who served as a top aide to the commander of a brigade in Borno state, told VOA there were between 100 and 150 foreign soldiers, mainly South African, working out of Maiduguri and they were flying fighter jets daily out of the Maiduguri airport.
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