‘Bandits’ Kill 23 Nigerian Troops in Northwest: Security Sources

 In Terrorism, Africa

At least 23 Nigerian troops were killed when they were ambushed by a gang of so-called “ban­dits” in a remote vil­lage in the north­west of the coun­try, secu­ri­ty sources said Sunday.

The gang opened fire Saturday on the sol­diers who were on foot in a forest­ed part of the Jibia dis­trict in Katsina state, the sources said, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty.

“The bodies of 23 sol­diers have been account­ed for while some are still miss­ing,” a mil­i­tary source said.

In the past, the armed gangs, known local­ly as “ban­dits,” have been involved in cattle rustling and kid­nap­pings, but a number of experts have recent­ly warned that they could be forg­ing ties with jihadist groups in the region.
One mili­tia member said the toll could be “higher than 23,” as the search for miss­ing soldiers was under­way.

Also on Saturday in the same area, five chil­dren were killed and six others injured when a bomb acci­den­tal­ly explod­ed, a spokesman for Katsina State police said.

It was not clear whether the explo­sive had been left by the ban­dits, the state­ment said.

Katsina State, where President Muhammadu Buhari orig­i­nates from and where the vast major­i­ty of the pop­u­la­tion lives in extreme pover­ty, has become increas­ing­ly volatile in recent years.

The Nigerian army regularly raids the forests where the armed groups hide, but the number of sol­diers is insuf­fi­cient and vil­lagers orga­nize them­selves into the civil­ian mili­tia.

In May, the International Crisis Group, an NGO, warned that the armed gangs could be devel­op­ing links with jihadist groups such as Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), which is already very powerful in north­west Nigeria.

The “ban­dits” have killed around 8,000 people since 2011 and forced more than 200,000 to flee their homes, accord­ing to an esti­mate by Brussels-based ICG.

The Defense Post source|articles

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