Bandits, who have been on the rampage in parts of Zamfara State, have been sighted in a camp in Tsamari, Birnin Magaji, from where they have been launching attacks on various parts of the state.
Birnin Magaji is the hometown of the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali.
The Nigerian Air Force’s Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance aircraft sighted the bandits’ camp on Friday, after which the military called in an Alpha Jet aircraft to strike the base.
Our correspondent learnt that the military strike was carried out by the Air Task Force of Operation Diran Mikiya, a military operation dedicated to tackling bandits, kidnappers and other criminal elements in the North-West region.
The bandits, responsible for recent killings in the state, had on Saturday attacked Doburu in the Zurmi Local Government Area of the state, where an unspecified number of soldiers were feared killed.
Although military authorities had yet to confirm the attack, some soldiers, said to have been injured, were reportedly taken to Zurmi General Hospital.
According to sources, the officer who led the troops into the forest was captured by the bandits.
The Air Force on Sunday, in a statement by its Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, said the air strike was conducted on Friday at about dawn and some items were recovered from the camp.
He said, “The Air Task Force of Operation Diran Mikiya has neutralised a bandits’ hideout at a compound west of Tsamari in the Birnin Magaji LGA of the state. The attack was conducted at dawn on December 28, following intelligence reports indicating that the compound was being used by the bandits as a camp from where they launch attacks against innocent civilians.
“Accordingly, the ATF detailed an ISR aircraft, which confirmed the presence of bandits, armed with high-calibre weapons at the location. Consequently, an Alpha Jet aircraft was dispatched to strike the compound, recording direct hits on the target area and resulting in significant damage to the structures and neutralisation of some bandits.
“The ATF, working in concert with surface forces and other security agencies, will continue to conduct reconnaissance and air interdiction missions with a view to restoring normalcy to the affected states in the North-West.”
Also, Col Tukur Gusau, the Public Relations Officer to the Minister of Defence, said there were ongoing measures and strategies to address the Zamfara attacks.
Gusau, in an interview with our correspondent on Sunday, said, “The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, left that place about two days ago. It is part of the measures taken. He went there to intensify the efforts and strategies put in place, particularly as it concerned the air component. A lot has been achieved.
“The problem in Birnin Magaji has been since 2011. The fact that the honourable minister is from there is not the reason why there is crisis there.”