Several gunmen were killed and their camps destroyed following an air operation in the northwestern Nigerian state of Sokoto, the nation’s airforce chief Sadique Abubakar said Tuesday.

The operation was launched on Monday as part of efforts to rid the Nigerian northwest region of gunmen or bandits, cattle rustlers, kidnappers, and other criminal elements, Abubakar said in a statement.

The operation held in the Kagara Forest area of Sokoto is aimed at smoking out the gunmen, believed by the military authorities to be bandits, from their camps.

As the Kagara Forest extends into the Republic of Niger, there was also a synergy with the Nigerien authorities to ensure that the bandits did not escape through the international borders during the operation, Abubakar said.

The military official declined to give the exact number of the gunmen killed during the airstrike but said that there was a massive deployment of air assets to Sokoto to aid other operations in the state and its surrounding areas so as to bring criminal activities to a decisive end.

Banditry, kidnapping and other criminal activities have recently become rampant in northwestern Nigeria. The military high command said they are in control of the situation with multiple ongoing operations against the gunmen.

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