Nigerian troops have rescued an army officer kidnapped last month from an elite military academy in the restive northwest, the army said late Friday.
An armed gang stormed the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA), the country’s heavily guarded military academy in the city of Kaduna on August 24, killing two officers and abducting another, in a daring attack that shocked the authorities.
Northwest and central Nigeria have been plagued by criminal gangs known locally as bandits who raid villages, kidnapping and killing residents, stealing cattle and burning homes after looting them.
The bandits have been increasingly targeting schools in mass abductions of schoolchildren to squeeze ransom from parents and authorities.
The assault on the NDA, which trains the country’s military officers and those from other African countries, was seen as too daring although attacks on bases by jihadists waging a 12-year insurrection in the northeast are common.
On Friday, troops raided a camp where the kidnapped officer was being held in the Afaka area not far from the military academy, the army said in a statement.
The bandits engaged the troops in a gunfight and “in the process, the gallant troops were able to rescue the abducted officer,” it said.
“However, the officer sustained a minor injury but has been treated in a medical facility and handed over to NDA for further action,” it said.
The army said several bandits’ camps were destroyed and “scores of bandits” were killed during the operation.
The criminal gangs are known to maintain camps in the Rugu forest which straddles Kaduna, Zamfara, Katsina and Niger states.
Nigerian military have launched ground and air assaults on bandits camps in Zamfara state in the past two weeks amid a telecom blackout, aiming to end their activities in the region.