The Nigerian military has recorded fatalities in its bid to flush out gun runners and armed bandits in Kopa, Dagma and Gagaw villages of Bosso Local Government Area of Niger State.
According to a statement by the Acting Army spokesman, Col. Sani Usman, 11 officers cutting across the Nigerian Army and Nigeria Air Force lost their lives in the operation.
The statement said, “Following covert surveillance and intelligence reports on the activities of some gun runners and armed bandits in Kopa, Dagma and Gagaw villages of Bosso Local Government Area, Niger State, troops of 31 Artillery Brigade, 1 Division Nigerian Army, in conjunction with Nigeria Air Force detachment on Internal Security Operation MESA went on quick cordon and search in the affected areas to recover suspected weapon cache and arrest the suspected persons and the armed bandits.“While approaching and deploying to carry out their lawful duty, the troops came under simultaneous and sporadic shootings in all the three locations. They however responded as necessary in line with the rules of engagement.
“Sadly, an officer and 8 soldiers of the Nigerian Army and 2 Airmen of the Nigeria Air Force lost their lives in the line of national duty. Additionally, one soldier is still missing while 2 of their colleagues were seriously wounded. “The suspected gun runners and armed bandits also burnt down 4 operational vehicles and vandalized 2 others.”
The statement disclosed that the bandits carted away “4 AK-47 rifles and one Fabrique Nationale (FN) rifle belonging to the deceased soldiers.” Usman said the troops which killed 8 of the armed bandits and arrested 57 others, also recovered large quantity of arms and ammunition which include, “3 AK-47 rifles,10 Local AK-47 Rifles, 9 Locally made Pistols, 6 Revolver guns, which fires 7.62mm (Special ammunition), 45 Loaded Dane guns, 10 Clubs and Cudgels, 41 Arrows, 18 Bow cases, 122 Cutlasses and Machetes as well as 20 Daggers.” Other items recovered from the bandits include “31 Axes, 63 rounds of 7.62 (Special) Ammunition, 10 Bajaj Motorcycles, Assorted Charms and Amulets, 2 Vehicles, 38 mobile telephone handsets, a wristwatch, 5 Identity Cards, Passport Photographs, Cash sum of N23,870.00k, 5 Japanese Yen and 35 different denominations of old Nigerian currency, 15 Catapults, 8 Torchlights, 2 Gun Powder bottles, 4 empty cases of Ammunition, 41 Cartridges, a military Waist Belt and a pair of military Combat Boots.”
The Military stressed that the nefarious activities of the gun runners and the armed bandits have direct bearing with the “influx of weapons and general insecurity in some parts of the Federal Capital Territory and the North West geo-political zone of the country.”
The Army spokesman further confirmed that the same gun runners have been the “suppliers of arms to armed robbery gangs that were involved in series of armed robbery attacks along Minna-Bida road and the general environment.”
Urging law abiding citizens to go about their lawful activities without fear, the military warned that it will not “rest on its oars until all those involved are arrested and brought to justice,” adding that “it will continue to deal with any violent threat to the national security.”