By Kingsley Nwezeh
The military yesterday raised the alarm that fleeing insurgents from the North-east have begun to migrate to the North-west with sophisticated weapons.
It said the terrorists were metamorphosing into armed bandits following sustained artillery bombardment and air strikes mounted by the military.
At a briefing in Abuja, Coordinator of the Directorate of Defence Media Operations (CDDMO), Major General John Enenche, said having turned criminality to an industry and business, insurgents were migrating from North-east to North-west.
He said the insurgents were moving with sophisticated weapons, including anti-aircraft weapons.
Enenche noted that the insurgents migrating to North-west operated with AK 47 rifles, but had now acquired sophisticated weaponry like PKT, a caliber of weapon capable of bringing down an aircraft flying at low altitude and other anti-aircraft guns.
The coordinator said that the Armed Forces of Nigeria was studying the situation in North-west with a view to evolving a potent strategy that would arrest the ugly development.
On the successes recorded against the criminal elements, Enenche said, “The Armed Forces of Nigeria has continued its major operations across the country with renewed vigour and attendant successes.
“During the period under review, troops’ encounters with the criminal elements resulted in the destruction of their structures and equipment as well as the capture of arms and ammunition”
He said, “gallant troops also rescued some hostages with some criminal elements surrendering to the troops. The ground troops of Operation Lafiya Dole had no fewer than 17 encounters with the BHT/ISWAP criminals in the North-east theatre of operation.
“These encounters resulted in the killing of 75 BHT/ISWAP fighters, the capture of large arms and ammunition, as well as vehicles and equipment”, he said.
He asserted that some criminal elements and 35 captives were rescued while four of their fighters surrendered to troops.
The DDMO said from June 2 to 3, 2020, the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole conducted comprehensive precision strikes to mark the launching of its subsidiary Operation Long Reach II on the fringes of the Sambisa Forest in Borno State.
The massive air strikes resulted in the obliteration of insurgent structures used as meeting venue at Mainyakare village on the fringes of Sambisa Forest, stating that in the process, several of their fighters were neutralised.
He added that in continuation of intensive clearance operation in the North-west zone of the country, troops of Operation Hadarin Daji continued to record tremendous successes against the bandits.
He said that troops killed 58 armed bandits in Katsina and Zamfara states with others escaping with gunshot wounds, stressing that three repentant bandits embraced peace and surrendered to the troops with their arms and ammunition.
Enenche also said the maritime component of Operation Delta Safe specifically, Nigerian Navy Ship, Delta and Pathfinder impounded 565,000 litres of suspected illegally refined diesel in Opumami community and Opuedebubor Creek in Warri South LGA of Delta State as well Mejikiri, Buguma in Asari Toru LGA of Rivers State.
According to him, “Troops of Sector 1 Operation Delta Safe in conjunction with Forward Operating Base Escravos have deactivated all Illegal Refining Sites (IRS) identified within Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) pipeline general area.
“During the operations, a total of 17 Illegal Refining Sites (IRS) were deactivated at Agor-Illa Warri southwest LGA while 30,000 litres of illegally refined AGO and 125.7 barrels of stolen crude oil were impounded”, he said.