Nigeria: 200 Bandits Killed in North-Central Security Operation

Many Feared Dead As Explosion Rocks Nigerian Community (News Central TV)

The death toll from the operation to clear armed gangs from Nigeria’s central-northern state of Niger has risen to 200 in just three days, Niger State regional commissioner in charge of internal security, Emmanuel Umar, said on Thursday.

The gunmen have terrorised citizens in the north and northwest of the country for years and are known for kidnapping and killing hundreds of students and local villagers.

Umar said some leaders of the armed gangs, known locally as bandits, were among those killed during the operation led by the army and volunteers from vigilante groups and community leaders.

Umar said 60 motorbikes, which the gangs used to raid villages, weapons, and cattle were recovered from gunmen operating from camps deep inside the forest.

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The use of explosives against security personnel in Niger state is not common, but gunmen are known to attack villages and kidnap people for ransom.

Nigerian security personnel were killed when a landmine exploded under their patrol vehicle in Niger last month, and gunmen killed unknown numbers of people. 

For the first time, Islamist militants were spotted in one locality in Niger last year, regional authorities said.

President Muhammadu Buhari said the military had begun an offensive there against militants last month.

Nigeria’s security forces are being stretched as they fight insurgents in the northeast and armed gangs in the north and northwest.

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