There is a possibility that bands of fleeing terrorists from the North East are migrating to the North West and North Central zones with sophisticated weapons and turning to armed bandits, following the continued air and land bombardment of terrorists’ hideout in the theatres of operation, the army has disclosed.
Coordinator, Defence Media Operations (DMO), Maj-Gen. John Enenche, stated this yesterday while giving an update on military operations across the country.
According to him, since criminality is the bandits’ stock-in-trade, it is not impossible that they are migrating from the North East to the North West with their weapons.
He noted that the terrorists, who formerly operate with AK-47 rifles, now operate with sophisticated weapons like PKT (Pulemyot Kalashnikova Modernizirovannyi) – a modernised Kalashnikov machine gun that can bring down an aircraft flying at lower altitude, and even anti-aircraft guns.
Enenche said the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) was studying the situation in the North West to fashion out a potent strategy that would arrest the ugly development.
On the successes recorded thus far against the criminal elements, he said: “The AFN has continued its major operations across the country with renewed vigour and attendant successes. During the period under review, troops’ encounters with the criminal elements resulted in the destruction of their structures and equipment, as well as the capture of arms and ammunition. Our gallant troops also rescued some hostages, with some criminal elements surrendering to the troops.
“The ground troops of Operation Lafiya Dole had no fewer than 17 encounters with the BHT/ISWAP criminals in the North East theatre of operation. These encounters resulted in the killing of 75 BHT/ISWAP fighters, capture of large cache of arms and ammunition, as well as vehicles and equipment.”
He added that in continuation of intensive clearance operation in the North West, troops of Operation Hadarin Daji continued to record tremendous successes against the bandits.
The soldiers, he disclosed, killed 58 armed bandits in Katsina and Zamfara states with others escaping with gunshot wounds, stressing that three repentant bandits embraced peace and surrendered to the troops with their arms and ammunition.
Enenche also said the Maritime Component of Operation Delta Safe, specifically Nigerian Navy Ship Delta and Pathfinder, impounded 565,000 litres of suspected illegally refined Automotive Gas Oil (AGO).
“Troops of Sector 1 Operation Delta Safe, in conjunction with Forward Operating Base Escravos, have deactivated all Illegal Refining Sites (IRS) identified within Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) pipeline general area. During the operations, a total of 17 IRS were deactivated at Agor-Illa Warri South-West Council while 30,000 litres of illegally refined AGO and 125.7 barrels of stolen crude oil were impounded.”