The Federal Government says no fewer than 158 armed bandits, terrorists and criminal elements have been neutralised by the Armed Forces across the country since the beginning of the year.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who disclosed this at a media briefing on Monday in Abuja said the figure excluded scores of other terrorists and armed bandits killed during airstrikes.
The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, was at the media briefing on the progress made by the government in the war against terrorism and banditry.
Mohammed said some 52 criminal elements were arrested, with scores of arms, ammunition and equipment recovered while troops also rescued a total of 17 kidnapped victims across the country.
He said that a total of 684,856 barrels of stolen crude oil, 1,724,000 litres of stolen Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) and 500,000 litres of Dual Purpose Kerosene (DPK) were recovered.
Giving details of the feat by the military in each geo-political zone, the minister said in the North-West, 118 armed bandits were killed in action and a total of 11kidnapped victims were rescued within the period.
“During the same period, a cumulative total of 358 livestock and five assorted rifles were recovered from the armed bandits by the gallant troops in the zone.
“In the same vein, a total of 11 arrests were made, and those arrested include high profile armed bandits, gun runners and bandits’ collaborators,’’ he said.
1n the North-East, the minister said 30 terrorists, including some of their commanders, were killed by troops, apart from the scores, who were killed in air raids/attacks.
He said several gun trucks were captured in addition to the 13 recently captured at Marte in Borno, while some others were destroyed by the troops.
“Also, a total of 13 assorted rifles and two Anti-Aircraft guns were recovered from Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists, in addition, several arrests were made – including high-value targets – within the period.
“Now, during the past week alone, five Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists were eliminated by troops as they attempted to overrun Abbagajiri and Dusula towns in Damboa Local Government Area of Borno.
“The troops, from the 402 Special Forces Task Force Brigade, had on Wednesday encircled some terrorists’ enclaves at Abbagajiri and inflicted heavy casualties on them.
“Apart from the five who were killed, many other terrorists escaped with gunshot wounds, while the troops also captured several guns and some Improvised Explosive Device (IED)-making materials among others,’’ he said.
In the North-Central, the minister said that a total of six kidnapped victims were rescued, while five armed bandits, including militia gang leaders, were killed in action.
He said that 11 armed bandits were equally arrested in the zone.
“Only on Saturday, the Air Component of Operation Thunder Strike neutralised several armed bandits at Chikwale Forest in the Mangoro area of Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
“The operation followed credible intelligence reports indicating the significant presence of armed bandits in the area, which is about 20km West of the Kaduna-Abuja Highway,’’ he said.
In the South-South, the minister said troops of Operation Delta Safe destroyed operational activities of 24 illegal refining sites, 11 wooden boats, 142 metal tanks, 17 dugout pits and 45 ovens.
He said 30 suspects were arrested while 14 pumping machines, 13 speed boats and 13 outboard engines were recovered.
“Additionally, a total of 684,856 barrels of stolen crude oil, 1,724,000 litres of illegally refined Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) and 500,000 litres of Dual Purpose Kerosene (DPK) were recovered.
“Furthermore, a total of 1,184 of 25kg bags of Yaraliva Nitrab or Fertilizer suspected to have been smuggled from the Republic of Cameroon were impounded,’’ he said.
In the South-West, Mohammed said troops of Operation AWATSE destroyed several illegal refining sites and arrested 8 boats engaged in illegal activities.
He said in addition to the kinetic military operations, which led to the successes, the Armed Forces routinely carry out non-kinetic operations inform of Civil-Military Cooperation Activities (CIMIC).
The minister assured that, with this renewed determination and vigour, the security agencies would sustain their onslaught against terrorists, bandits and criminal elements in the country.
He urged the citizens, to give their support to the security agencies, who daily sacrifice to keep the country safe.