Unknown gunmen killed dozens of people, including 11 members of the security services, in two attacks at the weekend in Kogi State in central Nigeria and Katsina in the northwest, local authorities said.
Yahaya Bello, the governor of Kogi State, said: “The terrorists, numbering more than 100, reportedly invaded the locality in broad daylight, killing 11 members of the security forces operational unit and several villagers, and wounding many others. We have really exhausted our patience with the terrorists and we will use all possible means to put an end to these bloody and relentless attacks against innocent people.”
Many assailants lost their lives in clashes with security forces, he said, adding that hundreds of villagers had to flee their homes, finding refuge in neighbouring villages.
Bello announced imminent “extensive military operations”, approved by President Muhammadu Buhari, in three districts where the bandits were known to be taking refuge.
The attacks occurred shortly after Buhari called for a tougher military crackdown on gangs, recently designated as “terrorists” by the government.
Buhari, whose second and final term ends next year, has come under fire for his failure to end bandit attacks in particular.
On Thursday, January 27, he assured communities besieged by bandits that he was “more determined than ever to get rid of these outlaws”, saying the military was “well equipped to deal effectively with these enemies of humanity”.
Military operations and amnesties have not been able to stem the ongoing violence.
Analysts said it was possible that the bandits and militants had made alliances in the northeast, the epicentre of the 13-year insurgency carried out firstly by the Jamā’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’way Wa’l-Jihād (JAS), more commonly known as Boko Haram, and then joined by members its splinter group, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP).
They said this was “a growing source of concern”.