Nigeria confirms rescue of 9 police officers kidnapped by gunmen; airstrikes killed 17 bandits

An AW109 helicopter of the Nigerian Air Force is seen in flight

ABUJA, Nov 21 (NNN-Xinhua) — Nigerian authorities confirmed the nine senior police officers kidnapped earlier this month have been rescued unhurt following “a covert operation.”

The senior officers, all assistant superintendents of police, were kidnapped by gunmen on Nov 8 between Kankara town and Sheme in Katsina state.

National police spokesperson Frank Mba said the officers were on official deployment and traveling in a commercial bus on their way from the capital of the northeastern state of Borno to the capital of the northwestern state of Zamfara, when the bandits attacked their bus and abducted them.

It is not clear when they were freed by colleagues, but Mba said the rescue went through “a covert operation” which “commenced immediately.”

Two of the officers are currently receiving medical attention in hospital, while the other seven are being debriefed, he said.

“Preliminary investigation has shown that the attack on the vehicle was an opportunistic crime as the officers were all traveling in mufti, unarmed and alongside other private citizens in the commercial vehicle,” the spokesperson added.

Separately, the Nigerian military on Friday confirmed that 17 suspected bandits were eliminated in a series of airstrikes by troops in the country’s northwest region.

Military spokesman John Enenche said several other bandits were wounded as the airstrikes were executed on Wednesday in the Dunya Forest area of the northern state of Katsina, on the heels of credible intelligence.

A large camp of the bandits was also destroyed during the operation, Enenche told reporters in Abuja.

According to him, confirmatory surveillance missions by the military had indicated that dozens of bandits were regrouping and had established a camp at the Dunya Forest, which also housed scores of rustled cattle.

The military thereafter dispatched fighter jets and helicopter gunships which engaged the location in successive passes, destroying portions of the camp, including their storage facility, he added.

Several military operations are underway in the northwest region of Nigeria that has been wracked by years of violence.

Banditry, kidnapping and other criminal activities have recently become rampant in that region. — NNN-XINHUA