Over 200 Terrorists on Saturday invaded the Kaduna International Airport located in Igabi Local Government Area in Kaduna State, disrupting operation and killing one security personnel of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency.
The attack caused panic at the airport and reportedly grounded a Lagos-bound AZMAN aircraft scheduled to take off at 12:30pm.
Sources at the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria told Sunday PUNCH that the terrorists attacked VHF Omni Directional Range equipment site at the airport and killed a security man guarding the facility.
According to Systems Interface, VHF Omni Directional Range is “a short/medium-range radio navigation system used to aid aircraft in determining their flight position and direction in relation to their destination using.”
The attack, it was gathered, forced the airport authorities to temporarily shut down activities while the military battled the suspected terrorists.
A source, who confided in one of our correspondents, said the terrorists vowed to shut down the airport.
The source said, “The terrorists’ attack started around 12am (Saturday). They started attacking the airport around midnight. The terrorists were said to have alleged that military personnel took away their cattle.
“But the military was able to repel them that midnight and we thought that was all. In fact, our staff members resumed work this morning as usual. They worked around the runway five till around 12pm.
“Then, shortly after that, some NAMA staff went to check some of their equipment then the bandits appeared and started shooting. The NAMA engineers scampered for safety; they could not even go and enter the vehicle that took them to the site. It was in the process that their security man was shot in the head.
“The security man was rushed to the hospital and he was confirmed dead.”
The acting General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Voke Ivbaze, while confirming the attack to Sunday PUNCH, however, said the intervention of the military prevented the bandits from stalling the operations of FAAN.
Asked whether the attack affected FAAN’s operations at the airport in any way, she replied, “No, not all. It was in the morning and the military was able to intervene.
“So, it didn’t affect our operations and actually the two aircraft that were on ground at the time, they took off eventually.”
Later in a statement on Saturday night, FAAN explained that the terrorits attacked Runway 05 axis of the airport.
It said, “The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria regrets to state that a group of bandits attacked the Runway 05 axis of Kaduna airport earlier in the day.
“However, a combined team of anti-banditry military personnel and crime investigation unit of FAAN Aviation Security Department swiftly intervened for rescue operation, with one casualty reported in the incident.
“Normalcy has since been restored at the airport. The team also recovered two motorbikes abandoned by the bandits.”
The agency stated that heavy reinforcement team from the Nigerian Defence Academy was on ground to ensure safety and security of airport workers/users.
It said the FAAN AVSEC department had equally released operational vehicles to the team for patrol purposes.
“The authority uses this opportunity to sympathise with the family and friends of the victim of this unfortunate incident.
“We shall continue to give further updates where necessary,” it stated.
Also, in a statement titled, ‘Troops repel bandits at Kaduna airport,’ the Kaduna State Government, through the Commissioner of Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, said, “Security forces have reported that an attack by armed bandits was repelled in the vicinity of the Kaduna International Airport.
“Troops stationed within and around the airport responded and repelled the attackers.
“However, the bandits unfortunately shot and killed a staff member stationed at the perimeter fence who raised alarm on sighting them. Airport operations resumed with scheduled flights departing after the incident.
“Security forces are conducting operations in the airport general area. Further updates will be communicated to the public.”
Aruwan said Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufa’I, “commended the security forces for their prompt response to the attack, and for repelling the attackers.
“He expressed sadness at the report of the casualty, and sent condolences to the family of the victim, while offering prayers for the repose of his soul.”