UN helicopter shot at in Nigeria

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Suspected Islamic extremists shot at a UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) helicopter in northern Nigeria at the weekend reportedly killing two civilians.

President Muhammadu Buhari blamed the attack on militants linked to Boko Haram and warned it “would not go without severe consequences.”

“Boko Haram terrorists are clearly on the back foot and increasing attacks on innocent civilians, including UN humanitarian workers, is part of desperation to prove they are strong to cover up dwindling fortunes,” the president said in a statement.

Security has long been a concern for aid groups in north-eastern Nigeria, where humanitarian workers have been kidnapped and killed during Boko Haram’s decade-long insurgency.

UN human co-ordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, welcomed the Nigerian government’s commitment to investigate the attack and “swiftly bring the perpetrators to justice”.

He said no aid workers were on the helicopter when it was attacked adding the crew was safe as well as commending them for bringing the aircraft back to safety.

“The UNHAS is essential to evacuate wounded civilians and remains the backbone of facilitating humanitarian access, enabling UN agencies and non-government organisations to safely and securely reach most vulnerable populations. In 2019, the air service transported 66 271 passengers and 147 tons of humanitarian assistance, as well as conducting 30 medical and 70 security evacuations” he said in a statement.