Seven people on board a military aircraft died in a crash on Sunday near Nigeria’s capital Abuja, said the country’s airforce spokesman.
The plane was scheduled to conduct a surveillance mission in connection with an operation to rescue dozens of people abducted from a school on Wednesday near Niger State.
Gunmen known locally as “bandits” killed a schoolboy and captured 42 other people, including 27 students, three teachers and relatives of school staff, said officials in the country’s latest mass abduction.
President Muhammadu Buhari ordered security forces to free kidnap victims and the army and police said they were tracking the gang.
The plane that crashed “was scheduled to conduct surveillance missions over Niger State and its environs in connection with the concerted efforts to secure the release of the students/staff,” said spokesman Ibikunle Daramola in a statement.
The cause of the accident is still unknown but officials said the pilot had reported an engine failure.
The “Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Beechcraft B350i aircraft crashed while returning to the Abuja after reporting engine failure,” said Daramola.
“Sadly, all 7 personnel on board died in the crash,” added Daramola.
The airforce said an investigation into the accident underway.
Nigeria’s minister of aviation Sirika Hadi also confirmed the accident.
“We should remain calm & wait for the outcome of investigation by the military,” said Hadi in a tweet.