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Nigeria phone blackout is helping us fight bandits, says top general

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ABUJA, Oct 14 (Reuters) – A telecoms blackout will probably be maintained in giant swathes of northwest Nigeria as a result of it is helping the armed forces crack down on bandits accountable for a wave of abductions and assaults, the nation’s top general mentioned on Thursday.

All phone and web companies have been shut down in the entire of Zamfara State in early September, and the blackout was later prolonged to components of Katsina, Sokoto and Kaduna states as navy operations towards the bandits intensified.

The closure has made it exhausting to know what is taking place within the affected areas, and has disrupted day by day life and enterprise for hundreds of thousands of individuals.

“Telecommunication in the northwest was shut down out of necessity. We have achieved successes within this period,” mentioned Lucky Irabor, Nigeria’s chief of defence employees.

“So the shutdown will remain as long as it’s necessary. The shutdown is more of a blessing than anything else,” he advised reporters.

Bandit gangs who camp in distant forests and journey by motorcycle have kidnapped greater than 1,100 youngsters from their colleges and have additionally focused villagers and other people travelling by street. In most circumstances they’ve demanded ransoms, and plenty of have been paid though the small print are not often made public.

Irabor mentioned the armed forces had killed 250 bandits within the northwest because the blackouts started.

He additionally mentioned greater than 600 insurgents had been arrested in the course of the interval, with out elaborating. It was not clear whether or not he was referring to bandits or to Islamist insurgents, who’re largely concentrated within the northeast quite than the northwest.

Reporting by Felix Onuah, writing by Estelle Shirbon; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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