ABUJA, May 7 (Xinhua) -- Nigerian Air Force on Tuesday said its airstrikes killed 20 armed group members while destroying their camp near a forest in the country's northwestern state of Zamfara.
A major kingpin surnamed Lawal was also arrested by the ground troops supported by the air force which conducted the Tuesday dawn raid on the camp, near Rugu Forest, where many nefarious activities were planned by the armed group, said Ibikunle Daramola, spokesman for the air force.
Daramola said the operation followed credible intelligence that the notorious kingpin was camped, along with dozens of his fighters, at a settlement about 4 km west of the Rugu Forest.
The settlement was where Lawal kept his logistics supplies, coordinated operations and launched attacks against security forces as well as innocent civilians, according to the official.
"Consequently, following detailed confirmatory intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions, the ATF dispatched one Alpha jet and an attack helicopter to strike the camp," he said.
He said the Alpha jet strikes recorded direct hits on the camp, destroying the armed group's structures, fuel storage containers, arms, explosives, and other logistics supplies, which were seen engulfed in flames.
The spokesman said the Nigerian air force, working in consonance with surface forces and other security agencies, would sustain its operations to flush the armed group out of the northwest region of the country.
Last month, the Nigerian military launched a full-scale offensive against armed groups operating in Zamfara. The offensive is part of sustained efforts to flush out "banditry and criminality" in the state in particular and the northwest region in general.
The state of Zamfara, as well as neighboring Kaduna state, have witnessed a series of attacks by armed groups in recent months.
There have also been recurring incidents of livestock rustling and armed banditry in the region.