Troops of the Nigerian military under the Operation Hadarin Daji have reportedly shot and killed 78 bandits in various operations carried out in Zamfara State forests in the last two months.

The operations also led to the rescue of over 50 kidnap victims as well as the recovery of 16 AK-47 rifles, one machine gun, 14 Dane guns, two pump action rifles, three pistols and 2,437 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition.

The acting Director, Defence Information, Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, disclosed these at a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday.

He explained that the arrested bandits were currently undergoing preliminary investigation, after which they would be handed over to the appropriate prosecuting agencies.

Nwachukwu said, “The Operation Hadarin Daji was launched to effectively tackle the spate of security challenges confronting some states in the north-western part of the country.

“In the last two months, since the commencement of the joint operation, the troops have in series of encounters rescued over 50 kidnapped victims and neutralised about 78 bandits from various fortified enclaves in Zamfara and contiguous states.

“Over 25 suspected bandits have been arrested and 14 motorcycles used by them were also recovered. The bandits are currently undergoing preliminary investigation, after which they will be handed over to the appropriate prosecuting agencies.

“On the realisation that bandits were generating financial resources through cattle rustling, the troops also embarked on anti-cattle rustling operations, which led to the interception and stalling of cattle rustling activities. This culminated in the recovery of 2,278 cows, which had been duly returned to their respective owners.”

Speaking on the Operation Thunder Strike, which was launched to tackle kidnappings along the Kaduna-Abuja Expressway, the defence spokesman said six kidnappers were killed by the troops, while 14 others were arrested.

Nwachukwu said, “Troops were able to identify a number of black spots along the Abuja-Kaduna highway, such as Jere, Katare, Rijana, Kurmi-Karshi, Gidan-Mamman Black-gold and Gidan-Guza, where criminals unleash attacks on unsuspecting road users.

“This operation led to the interception and arrest of 14 suspected kidnappers, while six bandits were neutralised.

“The troops also discovered a group of bandits dressed in military camouflage. The troops engaged them in a fire fight and neutralised the bandits. The troops have so far recovered a total of 38 firearms comprising 11 AK-47 rifles, one semi-automatic rifle and two locally-made pistols, among others.”