The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has raided the enclaves of bandits and terrorists, killing 45 outlaws as well as a frontline commander of the Islamic State West Africa Province (Iswap).
The air force carried out the strikes following intelligence reports on the key enclaves of kidnapping and banditry in Rijana, Kaduna State in North West Nigeria.
In Kaduna, the airstrikes destroyed an armoury and a building occupied by a kidnapping kingpin Ali Kawaje (Kwaja) and killed as many as 45 bandits in the vicinity.
Bandits often use the enclaves as their staging points to carry out attacks on travellers and commuters on the Abuja -Kaduna Expressway.
The air raid on the bandits came three days after attacks on unsuspecting travellers along the highway.
“Most of the attacks along Kaduna-Abuja Expressway are orchestrated by bandits from Rijana-Kuzo axis. After confirming the location, the air component of Operation Thunder Strike of the Nigerian military scrambled fighter aircraft to take out the targets. Overhead the target area, armed bandits were seen gathered and were engaged,” the military reported, adding that some bandits who were fleeing after the initial strike were trailed to a location about 4km Southeast of Kaduna State and were neutralised.
Key building destroyed
It said that the air component destroyed a key house in Kofita belonging to the bandits after it was revealed that the building served as a warehouse and staging location for most of the attacks in the area.
The military reported that the airstrikes also killed Iswap Commander, Abou-Sufyan, and others in Lake Chad region in Borno state which borders Cameroon and Chad.
NAF said its component of the Operation Hadin Kai launched a series of attacks on Sunday at Iswap armoury base in Kusuma and Sigir in Marte Local Government Area of Borno State.
The operation was conducted after intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions revealed the presence of several fighters who converged on the area in their preparatory move to launch attacks on troops in the axis.
“The ATF scrambled super Tucano aircraft in attacking the target area in multiple waves which recorded direct hits on a weapon-manufacturing facility, fuel dump, armoury base and an infrastructure filled with vehicles and motorcycles.
“Some terrorists fleeing the area were also intercepted and neutralised in follow-up attacks by the Nigerian troops.
“The week-long sustained air offensives have impacted on jihadists’ operational command and thwarted the group’s plans to carry out major attacks on the military formations in the axis,’’ the military said in a statement on Tuesday.