The Defence Headquarters has said that over 138 suspected bandits have been killed, while over 50 kidnapped victims were rescued by troops of Operation Hadarin Daji and the Joint Task Force Operation Thunder Strike between May to July 2019 in the Northwest part of the country. Both operations were launched in May in a bid to tackle the spate of security challenges confronting some states in the North-Western part of the country. At a briefing in Abuja to update journalists on the progress of the joint operation, the Director of Defence Information, Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu said that the troops also recovered firearms and ammunition during several mop-up operations carried out. “Since inception, troops of OPHD have recorded strings of successes against the criminals, including a daring rescue operation in which troops neutralized 54 armed bandits in an encounter in fortified enclaves in Moriki, Madada and Dumburum forests in Zamfara state. Several assorted firearms were also recovered from the bandits. “It will suffice to mention that in the last 2 months, since the commencement of the joint operations, the gallant troops of Operation HADARIN DAJI have in series of successful encounters rescued over 50 kidnapped victims and neutralized about 78 armed bandits from various fortified enclaves in Zamfara and contiguous states. “The troops have also recovered a total of 39 firearms which include 16 AK 47 rifles, 1 Light Machine Gun, 14 Dane guns, 2 Pump-action rifles, 3 semi-automatic rifles, 3 pistols and 2,437 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition.” He added that over 25 suspected bandits have been arrested and are undergoing investigations. Colonel Nwachukwu explained that the bandits used cattle rustling to fund their criminalities and the troops began anti-cattle rustling operation, which led to the interception of 2,278 cows. “On the realization, that bandits were generating financial resources through cattle rustling to fund their criminality, troops of OPHD also embarked on anti-cattle rustling operations, which led to the interception and stalling of cattle rustling activities. This culminated in the recovery of 2,278 cows, which have been duly returned to their respective owners. “The troops have also recovered a total of 39 firearms which include 16 AK 47 rifles, 1 Light Machine Gun, 14 Dane guns, 2 Pump-action rifles, 3 semi-automatic rifles, 3 pistols and 2,437 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition.” He also revealed that kidnappers, bandits, cattle rustlers along major highways and adjoining villages around Kaduna-Abuja axis were not spared, as troops identified flashpoints and arrested 14 suspected kidnappers and recovered arms and ammunition. “These operations led to the successful interception and arrest of 14 suspected kidnappers, while 6 bandits were neutralized. In a unique occurrence, troops while on aggressive patrol along Abuja-Kaduna highway discovered a group of bandits dressed in military camouflage who would have been ordinarily perceived by unsuspecting members of the public as military personnel on routine checks along the highway mounted an illegal roadblock. The courageous troops moved tactically to the scene, engaged them in a firefight and neutralized the bandits. “The troops have so far recovered a total of 38 firearms comprising, 11 AK 47 rifles, 1 Semi-automatic rifle, 1 Revolver Pistol, 23 Dane guns, 2 locally made pistols, 157 rounds of 7.62 mm Special ammunition, 8 cartridges, 2 AK 47 magazines, 5 Mobile phones, and 4 solar panels. “ Other recoveries made by the troops include “seven Motorcycles used by bandits and 695 cattle. “The cows have been returned to their respective owners,” he added.