Nemesis has caught up with some gunmen suspected to be armed bandits and terrorists who have been terrorising Niger State in recent times following their elimination by a military fighter jet and helicopter gunship on Wednesday along Kontagora, Mariga and Rijau local government areas of the state.
Investigations gathered revealed that the ground troops, in conjunction with some local vigilante groups, were said to have been involved in the interdiction of the bandits and several herds of livestock recovered from the hoodlums.
This was just after the military shot dead about 37 of them somewhere around Shadadi and Moundu area of Niger North Senatorial District of the state.
The bandits were attacked while they were moving away from the troubled communities.
The bandit leaders and their ‘boys’, it was learnt, had launched violent attacks on several communities in Kontagora, Mariga and Rijau local government areas of the state.
Further checks revealed that apart from killing underage children, the criminals allegedly carried out attacks on some residential buildings and commercial outlets on Wednesday during which they were said to have looted some shops and razed many houses and rustled over a thousand cattle.
Insider security sources informed this reporter that bad weather conditions prevented Nigerian Air Force (NAF) jets from launching offensive attacks against the ‘rampaging’ bandits earlier, adding that the successful airstrikes aided by the ground troops in conjunction with some local vigilante groups eventually neutralised them.
The sources, who spoke with our reporter on the condition of anonymity stated that the Air Component of Operation Gama Aiki on Wednesday dispatched an Alpha jet and helicopter gunship to the locations to take out the targets as the ground troops with local volunteers were moving in.
Credible intelligence from locals as well as land forces had indicated the movement of several armed bandits with rustled herds of cattle along Shadadi-Maundu axis.
An intelligence source involved in the operation said: “At Maundu, several armed bandits in black clothes were sighted running to take cover at nearby clusters of trees. Consequently, the aircraft took turns in engaging the targets.
“Additionally, at Shadadi, radio contact was established with the ground troops who reported movement of armed bandits and rustled herd of cattle towards Farin Doki – Bangi – Konam Dutse axis.
“Accordingly, the crew proceeded to the location to take out the targets. At Farin Doki, several armed bandits dressed in black clothes were sighted with a large number of about 1000+ rustled herds of cattle and were engaged with rockets. Fleeing bandits after the initial rocket strikes were mopped up with cannons.”
Local sources supporting the troops in the area confirmed the elimination of some of the bandit-terrorists.
“After the bombing by two aircraft one firing from far in the air and another that came later firing close to the ground, the surviving bandits were running away leaving their dead colleagues and the cattle.
“This morning, we have counted at least 37 bodies including some suspected to be their leaders,” one of the local vigilantes said.