ABUJA, October 14 (Hfrance.fr) - A telecommunications blackout will be maintained in largepans of northwestern Nigeria as it helps the armed forces to suppress the bandits responsible for a wave of kidnappings and attacks, the country's top general said Thursday.
All telephone and internet services were shut down in throughout Zamfara state in early September, and the blackout was subsequently extended to parts of Katsina, Sokoto and Kaduna states as military operations against the bandits intensified.
The closure has made it difficult to know what is going on in the affected areas, and has disrupted the daily lives and businesses of millions of people.
"Telecommunications in the Northwest have been shut down out of necessity. We have had success during this period " said Lucky IrabNow, Chief of Defense Staff of Nigeria.
"So the shutdown has ill stay as long as necessary . The shutdown is more of a blessing than anything else, "he told reporters.
Bandit gangs camping in remote forests and motorbikes have kidnapped more than 1,100 children from their schools and have also targeted villagers and people traveling by road. In most cases, they demanded ransoms, and many were paid although details are rarely made public.
Irabor said the forces armies had killed 250 bandits in the northwest since the blackout began.
He also said more than 600 insurgents had been arrested. It was not clear whether he was referring to bandits or Islamist insurgents, who are mostly concentered in the northeast rather than the northwest. Report by Felix Onuah, written by Estelle Shirbon; Edited by Emelia Sithole-Matarise
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