About 200 armed bandits were reportedly killed by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) component of Operation Hadarin Daji during multiple air strikes at the bandits’ camps in Katsina and Zamfara states.
The incident which occurred some few days to Eid-el-Fitr, saw troops smoking out the hoodlums from their hideouts.
A similar feat was recorded in Borno where 35 Boko Haram/Islamic States of West Africa Province (ISWAP) elements were neutralised by the troops of Operation Lafiya Dole.
Buhari’s order, NASS worries
The NAF’s action followed President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive that the military should hit the bandits in the two North-west states.
The president, who was visibly angry at the dastardly acts of the bandits, said the government won’t sit by and watch the destruction of lives and property by some lawless citizens.
Also worried by the development, the Senate lamented the escalating violence in both Niger and Sokoto states, and urged President Buhari to extend his order to cover the two states.
And in line with the presidential directive, the NAF component of Operation Hadarin Daji, rattled the bandits and killed about 200 of them.
The coordinator, defence media operations, Maj. Gen. John Enenche, announced this in a statement in Abuja Sunday.
He said the air strikes were conducted on 22 and 23 May 2020 at Ibrahim Mai’Bai’s camp in Jibia local government area of Katsina state and Kurmin Kura in Zurmi local government area of Zamfara state.
Enenche said the air strikes were executed after series of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, which led to the “confirmation that the two locations were being used as hideouts for some notorious armed bandit leaders whilst also serving as collection points for rustled cattle.”
He said upon confirmation of the bandits’ hideouts, the NAF ground attack aircraft and helicopter gunships engaged the two locations “in multiple passes, destroying the makeshift structures in the camps as well as killing the bandits’ leaders and their fighters.”
“Human intelligence sources later confirmed that close to 200 armed bandits were killed in the air strikes at the target locations,” he said.
Enenche said the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar has commended the air component of Operation Hadarin Daji for their professionalism and “directs them to remain resolute towards eradicating all armed bandits thus achieving directives of the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin, of restoring normalcy in the North-west and North-central zones of the country.”
“The CAS has also directed that additional assets be deployed to cover Kaduna, Niger, Nasarawa and Kogi states to frustrate any attempt of the bandits to relocate to adjoining states,” the statement further added.
In a related development, Enenche said the troops of Operation Lafiya Dole have eliminated 35 Boko Haram/Islamic States of West Africa Province terrorists in clearance operations between May 11 and 22 in Borno.
Enenche, said this in a statement Sunday in Abuja, a copy of which was made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
He said the troops dealt deadly blows on the terrorists when troops of Army Super Camp 6 and 7 conducted a long-range fighting patrol on May 11 and cleared Adzunge and adjoining villages.
He also disclosed that troops of Special Response Area Pulka with the Civilian Joint Task Force and hunters ambushed the terrorists on May 13 along Pulka-Boko-Kirawa road.
The coordinator added that eight Boko Haram/ISWAP fighters were killed while 10 motorcycles and assorted food items were captured.
He said troops of 192 Battalion on May 15, ambushed the terrorists relocating from Sambisa forest to Mandara mountains due to heavy air and artillery bombardments.
“Five of them were killed, 3 AK47 rifles and 17 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition, one pair of BHT/ISWAP uniform, two cartridges and other clothing materials were recovered.
“Same day, troops of 22 Brigade deployed at Dikwa in conjunction with troops from Quick Response Area neutralised 2 terrorists who attempted to attack the troops’ location from Boboshe.
“Others fled with gunshot wounds. One AK47 rifle and one magazine with 15 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition were recovered.
“Between 19 and 20 May 2020, following Gajigana attack, troops of 7 Division Garrison, 195 and 212 Battalions with vigilantes exploited and discovered 5 terrorists killed in action.
“Five AK47 rifles, two terrorists’ gun trucks, one anti-aircraft gun, six assorted magazines, 250 rounds of 12.7 mm, 61 rounds of 7.62 mm and two hand grenades were recovered,” he said.
Enenche further said troops of Special Response Area Pulka with Civilian Joint Task Force and hunters, also ambushed the terrorists on May 20 along Pulka-Dirgi-Banki general area and killed two terrorists.
He added that others escaped with gunshot wounds while one AK 47 loaded with 30 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition was recovered.
The defence media coordinator stated that troops of 81 Division Task Force under 22 Brigade and 153 Task Force Battalion with Civilian Joint Task Force on May 21, killed eight terrorists in a clearance operation at Mugdala village.
He disclosed that one AK47 rifle, one Dane gun, three Boko Haram flags, two bicycles, two cell phones, two memory cards and other phone accessories were recovered.
According to him, troops of 202 Battalion and Special Armoured Brigade Garrison Bama, on May 22 killed three terrorists at crossing point along Bama Aulari road.
“In all, a total of 35 BHT/ISWAP terrorists were killed in Sector 1 offensives between May 11 and 22.
“The High Command of the Armed Forces of Nigeria congratulates and also encourages troops to maintain the momentum of their operations, towards eradicating the terrorists from the North-east,” he said.
Muttawale resumes peace accord
Meanwhile, Zamfara state Governor Bello Matawalle has announced the continuation of peace deals with leaders of bandits operating in the state for the attainment of total peace.
The governor stated this Saturday in Gusau while condoling with families of those attacked by bandits in some villages in the state.
His visit was sequel to last week’s attacks on the affected villages, leaving no fewer than 10 persons dead and several others wounded prior to the arrival of the security agents.
The condolence visit took the governor to the affected villages namely; Unguwar Rogo, Karda, Bidda and Kajera of Tsafe local government area as well as Kabaje of Kaura-Namoda local government.
While praying for the repose of the soul of the victims of the attack, the governor said: “I have been working round the clock, having sleepless nights, holding meetings with the security chieftains and other stakeholders.
“We have assurances from the leaders of Fulani groups who have embraced our peace overtures that they will reach out to the recalcitrant groups responsible for the attacks and persuade them to accept our peace pact.
“While we are committed to our dialogue and reconciliation initiative, we will spare no effort in enforcing the security of lives and property of our people.”
The governor assured that his administration would continue to honour the agreement reached with the bandits who chose the path of peace, but would confront those who reneged with the full force of the law.
While calling on members of the public to report any suspicious movement to the nearest security post for prompt action, Mutawalle urged them not to relent in praying for lasting peace in the state and the country.