Troops of the Nigerian Army 1 Division Kaduna, under Operation Harbin Kunama III, have arrested 61 bandits and neutralized 24 others in Kaduna, Niger and Kano states, the General Officer Commanding the Division, Major.-Gen. Faruk Yahaya, has said.
Yahaya, who disclosed this at a news briefing in Kaduna on Wednesday, said that 20 kidnapped victims were rescued in the course of the operation which began on May 10.
According to the GOC, a total of 478 livestock consisting of 374 cattle, 104 sheep and goats, 56 assorted arms and 24 motorcycles, as well as N1.1 million and some fake American dollars were also recovered from the suspects.
The exercise commenced on May 10 as directed by the Chief of Army Staff following incessant armed banditry, kidnapping and others violent criminal activities in the North West.
Yahaya explained that the target of the operation was to block strategic locations at the fringes contiguous to epicentre of banditry activities in Zamfara.
It was “to contain and neutralize the fleeing bandits from forests in Zamfara, Katsina and Kebbi while still conducting other activities across our area of responsibility in support of civil authority,” he added.
“One of the most important achievement is the relative peace attained in the fringes and forest areas bordering Zamfara, Kebbi and Katsina States which were hitherto beehive of banditry and others criminal activities.”
“Our main focus is in taking the fight to bandits, pursuing them in their camps and hideouts for destruction.”
Yahaya called on residents to avail the troops with credible and timely information instead of only reporting when bandits and criminals have attacked and fled.
“On our part, we are stepping up in intelligence gathering in conjunction with other security agencies and stakeholders and that is what has accounted for some of our recent gains and successes,” he said.
The GOC said the Division is taking proactive measures which include sustaining the tempo of Exercise Harbin Kunama III operation to boost the confidence of local communities, to enable them go back to farm and pursue other lawful means of livelihood.