The Nigerian military said that it killed several suspected bandits and recovered hundreds of animals following a security operation in Zamfara state as part of broader efforts to stamp out the activity.
In a statement, the Nigerian military said troops were deployed to the areas of Daki Takwas and Tashar Kuturu in Anka and Talata Mafara in Zamfara State on July 11 following “credible intelligence” that armed bandits there had stolen several animals.
“During the encounter, scores were neutralised while others escaped with gunshots wounds. Troops successfully recovered 302 rustled cows and 412 sheep,” a statement issued by military spokesman Major General John Eneche said in part.
The statement did not say whether any soldiers were killed or injured during the operation, named Hadarin Daji. It added that a gun magazine and five mobile phones were recovered and efforts were underway to return the stolen animals to their owners.
The statement thanked the soldiers for the efforts to end the banditry menace which has plagued the country’s northwest region following a rise in communal tensions.
“The Military High Command has commended the troops for their dedication and unwavering commitment and urges them to remain committed and sustain the onslaught against the enemies of our country.”
Banditry, kidnappings and other criminal activities have become rampant in some north, northwestern and central regions in Nigeria. Other states affected by banditry include Kaduna, Katsina, Niger and Sokoto states.
In April, armed bandits killed at least 47 people in attacks on several villages in Katsina state while in March, at least 50 people were killed in multiple attacks by armed bandits on villages in Kaduna state.
The security situation in these regions has resulted in the killings of thousands of people, the displacement of hundreds of thousands of others and the destruction of property of unknown value.
Last month, President Muhammadu Buhari vowed to intensify the government’s response to the problem. Prior to that, Nigeria’s air force said that more than 300 armed bandits were killed and their camps destroyed in a military operation in Katsina.
The Nigerian government has launched several military operations to try to end the violence while state authorities have also tried to initiate peace talks to address the situation without much success.