Umm Muhammed Umar
Hundreds of troops aided by gunships and fighter jets launched offensives on Saturday, on bandit camps in Nigeria’s Zamfara state. Nigerian military forces in Zamfara began, in one of their largest recent operations against the armed ‘bandits’, raids and air strikes on bandit hideouts last week.
Nigerian authorities have also extended a telecom shutdown in northwest Zamfara state to a neighbouring state. The blackout is reportedly part of a continuing crackdown by the army on gangs behind a series of mass kidnappings. Africa News reports that the country’s telecoms regulator had ordered operators to shut their towers in Zamfara. Telecommunication services were now also shut in 13 of neighbouring Katsina States 34 districts. The rationale behind the shutdown is reportedly to stop bandits from Zamfara moving into Katsina state to use telecom services. The telecoms blackout could be expanded to other districts if authorities in Katsina deem it necessary.
According to Africa News, northwest and central Nigeria have long fallen victim to been criminal bands who raid communities. Cattle theft is rife as are kidnappings for ransom. Homes are also reportedly burned. Africa News reports that gang activity has intensified this year, with the schools and colleges being targeted, and the abduction of hundreds of pupils.