Meanwhile, the Nigerian Air Force, on Tuesday, launched a major offensive against bandits along the Abuja-Kaduna Expressway, killing many of them in their camp.
The operation followed intelligence reports indicating that a cluster of huts and other structures at the location served as hideouts for a notorious bandits’ leader, ‘Major’, and his fighters.
The Defence Headquarters explained that six NAF aircraft undertaking five missions in a total of 13 sorties carried out a dawn raid on the cluster of huts.
This is coming 24 hours after bandits killed five persons and also kidnapped 10 others on the road.
Eight students of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, were also abducted by bandits. They were among the 300 French Language students travelling to Lagos for a programme at the Nigerian French Language Village.
Their abductors reportedly demanded N30m ransom on each of them.
Disclosing the development in a statement titled, ‘Operation Thunder Strike: Land and air components clear bandits’ camp along Abuja-Kaduna Expressway’, on Wednesday, the Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Maj. Gen. John Enenche, said the raid cleared the Kuku area of the Kagarko Local Government Area of bandits.
It said: “The first wave of the air component’s air strikes, which involved six Nigerian Air Force aircraft undertaking five missions in a total of 13 sorties, commenced at dawn and targeted the cluster of huts housing ‘Major.’
“The attack aircraft hit some of the target structures and neutralised some of the bandits.
“The second wave of attacks was executed by NAF helicopter gunships, which while continuing to engage the bandits’ location, also provided close air support to the land component as they advanced from Kagarko via Kuku into the bandits’ enclave.
“This paved the way for the ground troops to overrun and destroy the camp without effective resistance from the bandits.”
The DHQ further explained that a NAF Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance aircraft provided situational awareness for the troops throughout the operation.
The military high command commended the troops for their professionalism and urged them to remain resolute in the conduct of operations against the bandits.