Nwezeh Kingsley in Abuja
No fewer than 410 members of a new terror group unleashing mayhem on people in the North-central have surrendered to troops of Operation Whirl Stroke, the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) said yesterday.
According to DHQ, the suspected terrorists, including women and children, surrendered to the troops after the special anti-squad burst a terror cell operated by Darul Salam in Nasarawa State.
The military also uncovered a bomb-making factory and rocket launchers in their enclave in Uttu in Toto Local Government Area of the state.
This was coming as 17 Russians, Ukranians and Nigerians kidnapped by pirates in Lome Waters were rescued by Nigerian Navy Ship, Soros.
Briefing the media in Abuja yesterday, the Coordinator of the Directorate of Defence Media Operations (DDMO), Major General John Enenche, said in continuation of aggressive clearance operations aimed at ridding the North-central zone of armed banditry and other criminals, troops uncovered the terror cell belonging to the Darul Salam terror group.
He said the troops of Operation Whirl Stroke, while on a “robust clearance patrol around Uttu, on 26 August 2020 stormed a Darul Salam terrorists bomb-making factory, following actionable technical and human intelligence on the activities of the terrorists in the general area.
“In the course of the operation, troops recovered several improvised explosive device-making materials at the location, including two scales, six rocket launcher bombs, one bag of fertiliser, half a bag of gun powder, 10 locally-made hand grenades, one rocket-propelled grenade bomb fuse, one locally made rocket launcher, two Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), 13 improvised rocket bombs, amongst others.”
He said the camp was subsequently destroyed while troops combed the surrounding forests for fleeing members of the group.
Enenche added that following aggressive intensive kinetic operations at identified bandits’ enclaves, no fewer than 410 members of Darul Salam terrorist group, including women and children, surrendered to the troops.
On the rescue operation by the Navy, he said since the activation of Operation Silent Heat, arrests and deactivation of various militant camps had been effected.
“It was during the course of the operation that on 19 August, 2020, Nigerian Navy Ship, SOROH, intercepted a speed boat with 13 foreigners made of seven Russians and six Ukrainians alleged to have been kidnapped by pirates in Lome waters.
“The 13 kidnapped foreigners as well as four Nigerians on the speed boat have been handed over to Defence Intelligence Agency on 24 August, 2020 for further necessary action,” he said.
Reviewing military operations in the past one week, he said troops on Sunday conducted operations leading to the raid on an illegal mining site located along Gadan Zaima-Zuru Road in Bukuyyum Local Government Area of Zamfara State which also serves as bandits’ hideout.
“During the operation, 150 suspects were arrested and arms and ammunition were recovered. Preliminary investigation reveals that aside from sabotaging the nation’s economy, banditry is being financed through these illegal mining activities.
“Similarly, the gallant troops on fighting patrol encountered three bandits on motorcycles around Maigalma village in Anka Local Government Area of Zamfara State, while attempting to attack innocent residents. During the encounter, one of the bandits was neutralised while others escaped,” he stated.
Enenche added that the troops recovered one AK-47 rifle, one AK-47 rifle magazine loaded with five rounds of 7.62mm ammunition and two motorcycles from the fleeing bandits.
In addition, no fewer than 20 armed bandits were killed in August in Katsina, Zamfara and Sokoto states.