Military raids involving Air Force officers have claimed the lives of no fewer than 40 bandits in Malele village, in the Dansadau Local Government Area of Zamfara State.
PUNCH Metro gathered that the Air Force, during a series of airstrikes undertaken by the air component of Operation Hadarin Daji, neutralised the terrorists at their hideouts in the village.
A report seen by one of our correspondents on Monday indicated that the military mobilised troops and airplanes for the attack on December 17, 2022.
The report read in part, “There are strong indications that strikes undertaken by the air component of Operation Hadarin Daji have recorded a major victory after hitting terrorists in Malele village in the Dansadau Local Government Area of Zamfara State.
“The security agencies, in particular, the military and the Air Force, have since Saturday, December 17, 2022, mobilised their troops and airplanes to launch attacks and airstrikes against those warring bandits coming from different parts of the country with several terrorists being eliminated.”
The report said the bandits, while attempting to escape from the airstrikes, ran into Mutunji village, adding that over 40 of them were killed.
Angered by the development, the hoodlums, in reprisal, laid a siege to a military convoy en-route to Malele and opened fire.
The report said, “Luckily, no life was lost except a soldier, who sustained an injury. The soldier is positively responding to treatment. Other sources have also confirmed that terrorists’ kingpins — Halilu Jan Buzu, Turji and Adamu Aleiru, are making efforts to reinforce their colleagues on the battlefield after the devastating airstrikes.
“Halilu Buzu’s boys, in particular, were sighted along Dankurmi on their way to Malele, while those of Adamu Aleiru were seen at Yar Gada, a border between Dansadau and Gusau Emirates, waiting for sunrise to move to the battleground.”
However, an indigene of Mutunji village, in the Maru LGA of Zamfara State, Musa Abubakar, told one of our correspondents that the bandits killed 10 soldiers.
Abubakar said the soldiers were on their way to Mutunji to complement the Air Force in bombarding the bandits, adding that some bandits, who lurked at a spot on the road, ambushed them.
According to Abubakar, immediately the bandits sighted the soldiers, they came out of their hideout and opened fire, killing 10 of them on the spot.
He said, “The bandits, after killing the soldiers, and sighting the fighter jet, rushed to Mutunji village and hid in the market where many people were busy transacting their business.
“When the fighter jet arrived in the village, it dropped a bomb and 68 locals were killed while several others were seriously injured and taken to a hospital for treatment.”
Another resident, Sa’idu Ishaka, said he was in the market when the bomb was dropped by the fighter jet, adding that he narrowly escaped death.
Ishaka, who accompanied some injured persons to Yariman Bakura Specialist Hospital, said bandits came to their village in large numbers.
“When the aircraft approached the village, we just heard a heavy sound in the market and many shops went in flames. I narrowly escaped being killed but I saw several dead bodies in front of me.
“I was among the people who took part in burying 68 persons who were killed by the bomb blast,” he added.
However, PUNCH Metro could not confirm the 68 civilian casualty figure as of press time.
One of our reporters, who visited the Yariman Bakura Specialist Hospital, Gusau, saw the dead bodies of the 10 soldiers being conveyed to a mortuary by the hospital staff.
The dead bodies were brought in an ambulance by the military around 3pm on Monday.
The state Commissioner on Security, DIG Mamman Tsafe (retd), who visited the hospital to see the slain soldiers and the injured persons, described the incident as “most unfortunate”.
Tsafe sympathised with the families of the soldiers and those injured.
“The incident happened at the time when security situation is considered to be improving”.
Calls to the Director, Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, were not answered, as he did not respond to a text message sent to his line as well.
The Director, Defence Media Operations, Major General Musa Danmadami, could not also be reached to comment on the matter as of press time.