Nigerian local authorities in northwest Zamfara state have extended a telecommunications shutdown in northwest Zamfara state to a neighboring state as part of an ongoing military crackdown against gangs behind a series of mass kidnappings, an official said Friday >
Nigerian security forces in Zamfara last week began one of their largest operations against the armed gangs known locally as bandits to stop the rise in violence.
To increase communication between the armed groups interfering, the country’s telecommunications regulatory agency also ordered operators to close their towers in Zamfara when the military began raiding and air strikes on bandit hideouts.
A security adviser to Katsina State Governor Aminu Bello Masari , said telecommunications services have now also been closed in 13 of 34 districts of the state on the border with Zamfara.
“The closure is intended to prevent bandits from Zamfara from moving to the state of Katsina to use telecommunications services for their terrorist activities,” said Ibrahim Ahmed Katsina.
“Right now that’s the shutdown is affecting 13 local governments to support ongoing security operations, but we won’t hesitate to extend the shutdown if necessary,” said Katsina.
Northwest and central Nigeria have long been haunted by criminal gangs, raiding communities and stealing cattle; and kidnapping residents for ransom after ransacking and burning homes.
But violence has escalated this year and bandits have schools and colleges targeted to kidnap hundreds of students in a series of mass kidnappings.
Heavily guarded bandit camps scatter the Rugu Forest, which stretches between the northern states of Kaduna and Katsi na Zamfara and Niger.
Hundreds of troops, supported by gunboats and fighter jets, launched an offensive bandit camp in the Shinkafi area of Zamfara state on Saturday, security sources said.
According to After the telecommunications shutdown, residents of Zamfara moved to Funtua, Katsina state, to make phone calls and do banking, which were also disrupted.
Local officials and residents say bandit gangs who fled the military offensive , have attacked communities in neighboring states.
Armed men, presumably from Zamfara, kidnapped more than 20 people in a village on Wednesday from the provincial border in the neighboring state of Sokoto, the police said.
< p> On Thursday, bandits raided the town of Tureta, Sokoto, killed six people and abducted seven more, said Muhammad Sadiq Abubakar, the state’s police spokesman, told AFP.
Am On Wednesday in the city of Bakori, Katsina state, residents arrested a bandit who fled Zamfara with his family.
Past military campaigns and amnesty agreements with bandits wanted by local governors have not ended the attacks .
Under the pressure of growing insecurity in Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari has instructed security chiefs to urgently find ways to curb violence in the north-west, even as they fight a 12-year jihadist insurgency in the north-east of the country .