80 hostages freed in NW Nigeria: official


LAGOS, Feb. 17 — At least 80 people held captive by armed bandits in the northwestern state of Zamfara have been rescued by Nigerian government forces, an official said Saturday.
In a statement issued in Gusau, capital of Zamfara, air force spokesperson Clement Abiade said the abductees consisted of men, women and children from some communities in Zamfara.
A military operation was carried out last week simultaneously with ground troops keeping watch at all exits, which frustrated the bandits, he added.
The spokesperson said six persons, who were suspected bandits, cattle rustlers and kidnappers, were arrested, and some weapons, ammunition and rustled animals were recovered in the operation.
Those arrested would be handed over to the police for investigation and prosecution, Abiade said.
Rural areas in Zamfara have been prone to attacks by criminal gangs, cattle rustlers and kidnappers, with at least two major attacks reported in December 2018, leaving scores of people dead.
In April 2018, the government deployed troops and air force fighter jets in Zamfara to fight the gangs.
A recent statement from the military said troops of Operation “Sharan Daji” on Jan. 20 came into contact with “a large gang of bandits armed with sophisticated arms” at Dumburum and Gando forests in Zamfara, killing 58 bandits and destroying 18 camps that had been used by them.

Xinhua