The Nigerian military conducted a large anti-terrorist raid on Friday. During the raid it killed 89 suspected gunmen and cattle rustlers, while recovering large amounts of arms and ammunition, the Nigerian military said in a statement.

Major General John Enenche, the spokesman for the Nigerian military, added that five hostages, including three women and two men, were rescued during the operation in the Zurmi region of the northwestern Zamfara state. 

Enenche said that the Nigerian forces were supported by two helicopter gunships as well as by military forces from the neighboring country of Niger. “Additionally, 322 rustled cows, 77 motorcycles, and some nine cell phones were recovered from the gunmen,” Enenche added.

Enenche said in a comment, with echoes of the times of Judge Roy Bean, that the government was trying to reunite the hostages with their families and the cattle with their rightful owners. 

Rustled cattle are recovered by Nigerian troops after a raid. (Nigerian military)
Stolen motorcycles are recovered after a raid by Nigerian military forces. (Nigerian military)

Northeast Nigeria has been plagued by a jihadist insurgency for the past decade. The Nigerian states of Zamfara — which borders Niger to the north — and Kaduna are also suffering from large criminal gangs who kidnap for ransom, rustle cattle, and terrorize isolated small communities. Because the government’s presence in the outlying areas is minimal, many communities have formed large vigilante groups of their own, adding to the problems. 

The Nigerian government has recently taken possession of several main battle tanks, light tanks, and self-propelled howitzers it purchased from China as part of a $152 million dollar purchase from the Chinese government company Norinco.

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Nigerian Army Chief of Policy and Plans, Lieutenant General Lamidi Adeosun, said in a statement, “The process of acquiring [the armor] has been on for some time but thank God they are coming in now. From this, you can see how serious the Federal Government of Nigeria is in making sure that the Nigerian Army is not only equipped but contains the problem of insecurity we are having across the country.

“This is being tackled with trained personnel and [the] required equipment. What you are seeing here is just the tip of the iceberg. [More hardware is] coming but it is very important that we all see that both the military and the government are really very serious to tackle the security problems across the nation.”

The equipment includes 35 main battle tanks (VT-4), ST-1 light tanks, 25 Typhoon MRAPs (mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles), 10 Spartan armored personnel carriers, 20 Armored Guard Booths, five armored mine-clearing vehicles, 50 troop-carrying vehicles, and 40 Buffalo vehicles. 

Nigeria has also purchased four 182 rigid hull inflatable and Epenal boats, four inshore patrol craft, two STAN Patrol Vessels, and one helicopter for the navy. Additionally, the Nigerian Air Force will receive 25 fixed-wing aircraft and 12 helicopters, according to reports from Defenceweb.com.