Troops eliminate 114 terrorists/bandits in operations across the country

Chuks Oyema-Aziken

The Armed Forces of Nigeria said it has continued aggressive operations against all forms of criminality in the country with the elimination of 114 Boko Haram/Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) and bandits in the last one week.

The Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Defence Headquarters, Major General John Enenche disclosed this at a routine media briefing in Abuja on Thursday.

Enenche said that the operations was carried out “in conjunction with other security agencies,” in series of raids, aerial, ambushes, clearance operations and confidence building patrols.

He said that 58 bandits and their collaborators were arrested in the same period while three armed robbers arrested have been handled over to the Nigeria Police for further investigations.

Giving a breakdown of operations in the different regions, he said that “on 21 November 2020, troops of Operation ACCORD while on covert operation at Galadi village in Shinkafi Local Government Area of Zamfara State neutralized 2 bandits and recovered 2 AK 47 rifles. In another development, still on same 21 November 2020, troops while on routine patrol at Gobirawa village made contact with armed bandits. During the encounter, 6 bandits were neutralized while 4 AK 47 rifles, 3 Dane guns and 2 motorcycles were recovered. In the same vein, following credible intelligence on activities of illegal miners at Kadauri general area in Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State, troops swiftly mobilized to the scene and apprehended 11 suspected illegal miners. The suspects have been handed over to the appropriate prosecuting authority for further action.

“Additionally, troops of Forward Operating Base Kwatarkwashi arrested one Shafiu Suleman, a wanted bandit’s informant at Kwatarkwashi Market. Preliminary investigation revealed that the suspect was the mastermind of recent kidnapping of some Locals within Kwatarkwashi district of Bungudu Local Government Area of Zamfara State. Furthermore, following distress call on presence of suspected bandits at Gidan Ruwa along Rukudawa axis of Zurmi Local Government Area of Zamfara State on 22 November 2020, troops swiftly responded and pursued the bandits as they fled on sighting the approaching troops. However, one bandit was neutralized, while one AK 47 rifle and one magazine loaded with 29 rounds of 7.62mm Special ammunition were recovered. Equally, 2 bandits were arrested in the process. In another feat recorded on 22 November 2020, operatives of Department of State Service, Katsina State Command arrested a couple Usman Shehu and his wife Aisha Abubakar of Rimi Local Government Area of Katsina State. The suspects were intercepted at Abukur village conveying large cache of ammunitions to Katsina Metropolis including 14 magazines, 61 rounds of 9.6mm caliber ammunition and 399 rounds of 7.62mm Special ammunition.

“Similarly, between 23 and 25 November 2020, troops of Operation HADARIN DAJI arrested several bandits’ collaborators in Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara States. Notably, on 23 November 2020, following credible Human intelligence, troops deployed at Forward Operating Base Dankurmi District of Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State arrested one Tasiu Shehu. Preliminary investigation revealed that the suspect has been supplying bandits with logistics. Relatedly, on 24 November 2020, following credible intelligence on movement of cattle rustlers, troops swiftly moblised to the area and successfully arrested 3 suspects and 300 cattle. The suspects are currently in custody for necessary action. Equally, still on same 24 November 2020, following credible information, 2 suspected bandits’ collaborators were apprehended at Tsayau village in Jibia Local Government Area of Katsina State by the gallant troops of Forward Operating Base Gurbin Baure. The suspects are currently in custody for further action.

“Meanwhile, within the period in focus, the Air Component of Operation HADARIN DAJI neutralized 82 armed bandits in air interdiction missions executed at Birnin Kogo Forest in Katsina State and Ajjah Forest in Zamfara State. Both air strikes were carried out on 23 November 2020, sequel to credible Human Intelligence reports as well as aerial surveillance missions that led to the identification of the 2 forest hideouts, which housed scores of the armed bandits along with hundreds of rustled cattle. The Nigerian Air Force fighter jets and helicopter gunships dispatched by the Air Component to attack the 2 locations took turns in engaging the target areas, scoring accurate hits on the caves, used by the armed bandits to shield themselves from air strikes. This is in addition to 17 armed bandits that were earlier neutralized at Dunya Forest area of Katsina State. This was achieved through air strikes executed on the heels of credible Human Intelligence reports and confirmatory surveillance missions indicating that dozens of Ansaru terrorist group-linked armed bandits had established a camp at the location, which also housed scores of rustled cattle.”

In the Northeast zone, General Enenche noted “on 19 November 2020, own troops acted swiftly on the heels of credible intelligence to intercept terrorists who were on the verge of receiving a Two Million Naira ransom from relatives of their kidnapped victims. The gallant troops with superior firepower engaged and overwhelmed the criminal elements that eventually aborted the collection of the Two Million Naira ransom and abandoned the victims; including 2 women and 3 children. During the encounter, troops neutralized one terrorist, while others escaped with gunshot wounds. Troops recovered one AK-47 rifle and a motorcycle from the terrorists.

“In another development, on same day, troops on aggressive fighting patrol in the general area of Zaye Ngusa in Borno State neutralized one terrorist as others fled with various degrees of gunshot wounds. Similarly, in well-coordinated ambush operations conducted by troops at Pulka – Sabon Gari – Kirawa road intercepted BHT criminal elements’ logistics convoy. The superior firepower of the gallant troops forced the criminals to abandon their consignment consisting 8 bicycles, several bags of grains, assorted packets of drugs and other food items.

“Meanwhile, the Air Task Force of Operation LAFIYA DOLE has not relented in its efforts to rid the North East zone of BHT/ISWAP criminal elements. During the period in focus, the Air Task Force maintained the tempo in its role of dominating the airspace with appropriate Nigerian Air Force fighter jets and helicopter gunships. The Air Task Force conducted series of aerial surveillance missions and offensive air strikes on terrorists’ enclaves as well as provided appropriate air support to ground troops. On 22 November 2020, the Air Task Force knocked out an ISWAP logistics base and neutralized several of their fighters at Tumbun Rego in Borno State. This feat was achieved through air strikes executed on the heels of credible intelligence reports, indicating that the location, with its makeshift structures camouflaged under dense vegetation, was being used by the terrorists as a hub for their logistics items conveyed via the Lake and its tributaries for onward transportation using trucks and motorcycles.”

In the North Central zone, the Defence Spokesperson stated that “on 19 November 2020, troops of Operation WHIRL STROKE raided a criminals’ hideout of armed militias at Tor Donga in Katsina – Ala Local Government Area of Benue State. During the raid, 3 bandits were neutralized with several others fatally injured. One locally made pistol was also recovered during the operation.”

Also, troops of operation SAFE HAVEN, between 19 and 23 November 2020, raided several suspected cultists’ hideouts at Jenta Adamu, Rukuba road and West of Mines in Jos North Local Government Area of Plateau State, and the Amusement/Wildlife parks in Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State, and arrested 36 suspects.

General Enenche noted that troops of Operation SAFE HAVEN also “arrested a notorious bandit, one Mallam Usaini Mohammed who was recuperating at Mainasara clinic in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State. The suspect fled with gunshot wounds following an encounter with troops during a foiled armed robbery at Saminaka earlier in July 2020. A similar tip-off also led to the arrest of another group of 3 armed robbers at their hideout at Dogo village in Riyom Local Government Area of Plateau State on same day.”

In the Niger Delta region, Enenche said that “Nigerian Navy Ship SOROH in conjunction with SECTOR 2, Operation DELTA SAFE carried out a dawn operation on 21 November 2020 around Gbaran Community. In the course of the operation, 2 armed pirates, one with an AK 47 and the other with a pump action rifle were sighted as they tried engaging own personnel while escaping. However, one of the pirates was neutralized while the one with AK 47 sustained gunshot wounds and jumped into the river. A further search led to the discovery of 2 more locally made guns and cartridges in the apartment where the pirates reside.”

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