Taraba State Police Command has killed no fewer than 50 suspected bandits terrorising communities across the Bali Local Government Area of the state.
The feat which is a major breakthrough in the fight against banditry in the North-East state was achieved on Tuesday.
The police spokesman in the state, Abdullahi Usman told Channels Television on Thursday that the bandits were killed by police operatives in collaboration with other security agencies.
He said the coordinated operation followed an outcry by locals which led to the ambush and killing of the bandits.
“Taraba State Police Command received information that some unknown gunmen suspected to be kidnappers in their hundreds invaded Tonti village under Maihula District Bali LGA Taraba State. The bandits invaded the village around 5:30hrs during the time that the Muslim faithful were saying their morning prayers, and started shooting sporadically,” he told Channels Television.
“On receipt of information, the Commissioner of Police Taraba State Police Command Joseph Eribo ordered the deployment of a tactical team from Bali Division to the area in collaboration with the Army, vigilantes, and hunters. On arriving at the village, the bandits engaged the joint team in a gun duel.
“In the process, many of the bandits were subdued and neutralised due to the firing power of the operatives and others escaped with various degrees of injuries as a result of gunshots. Investigation revealed that over fifty of the bandits were neutralised.”
According to him, there is a manhunt in the area to arrest the fleeing bandits.
However, 12 locals were shot to death by the bandits before the arrival of the security personnel, the police spokesman added.
Already, police authorities in the state have deployed a special strike force to the area for robust patrol mainly to stem the tide of banditry in and around the place.
Taraba is among several states in northern and central Nigeria where bandit gangs operate, raiding villages, killing and abducting residents as well as burning and looting homes.
The criminals have been notorious for mass kidnappings of students from schools in recent years. Hundreds of thousands of people have also been displaced in rural areas in the northern and central parts of Nigeria, where bandit militias raid villages to loot and kidnap scores of residents to hold them for ransom in forest hideouts.