By Kingsley Nwezeh
Abuja — In a widening campaign aimed at routing terrorists and bandits in the northern part of the country, fighter jets from the Multi-national Joint Task Force (MNJTF) killed 33 terrorists while troops engaged in Operation Sharan Daji in Zamfara State decimated 55 armed bandits.
However, one army officer and two soldiers were killed in the Zamfara operation while 24 suspects were arrested even as 760 kidnap victims were rescued.
This is coming as the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) said it was intensifying aerial patrols over Kaduna State and the Abuja-Kaduna Highway.
A NAF statement said “NAF Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) platforms and Alpha Jet attack aircraft, working in synergy with ISR platforms and attack aircraft from the Nigerien Air Force, supported surface troops of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) to pursue and decimate fleeing ISWAP fighters around Tumbun Rego area on the fringes of Lake Chad in the northern part of Borno State.
“The effectiveness of interdiction and close air support missions conducted by the attack aircraft of the two countries facilitated the routing of the terrorists at Arege, resulting in the killing of 33 fighters, destruction of some terrorists’ equipment as well as the recovery of an array of weapons and equipment”, he said, noting that the attack was aimed at routing the remnants of the Islamic State for West Africa Province (ISWAP) in the Lake Chad Basin area.
In Zamfara, the Air Force also carried out “air strikes around Kagara, Gando, Fankama, Fete and Dumburum forests during which successes were recorded”.
A statement issued by Acting Force Information Officer, Major Clement Abiade in Gusau, Zamfara State capital, said troops also recovered weapons, ammunition and rustled cows as they blocked all entry points to the bushes to deny the bandits free movement while building the confidence of the locals.
“A total of 24 suspected bandits informants, rustlers, kidnappers and logistics suppliers were arrested and handed over to the police for further investigation.
“Items recovered include four AK 47 rifles, one rocket-propelled gun tube, 12 dane guns, 27 AK 47 magazines, 168 rounds of 7.62mm (special) ammunition, one pump action gun, 47 motorcycles, a golf wagon car and 61 rustled cattle,” he said.