Armed attack on Nigerian airport disrupts flights

By: AFP
Published: 11:57 AM, 27 Mar, 2022
Armed attack on Nigerian airport disrupts flights
Caption: Representational image.
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Heavily armed gunmen attacked the airport in a major northwestern Nigerian city on Saturday, battling with troops, killing a security guard and temporarily disrupting flights, authorities and a security source said.

The attack on Kaduna City airport was another escalation from armed criminal gangs, known locally as bandits, who are blamed for rising violence and mass kidnappings in northwest Nigeria.

Gunmen attacked Kaduna City airport, but were repelled by security forces, Kaduna State Security Commissioner Samuel Aruwan said on Twitter.

"Troops stationed within and around the  airport responded and repelled the attackers," he said.

"The bandits unfortunately shot and killed a staff member stationed at the perimeter fence who raised alarm on sighting them."

A senior security source said the gunmen had made several attempts to attack the airport from midnight, but security forces repelled them. 

The incident led to disruption of flights. Passengers kept away from the airport as news of the attack filtered across the city, the security source said.

Authorities said flights resumed soon after the incident.

Domestic airlines serve Kaduna from Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos. 

"Security personnel have been doing their best in preventing the bandits from gaining access into the airport since last night," the security source said.

"The terrorists either want to storm the staff quarters and abduct people as they did in two previous cases or they aim to kidnap passengers and staff in their airport."

Northwest and central Nigeria have long been terrorised by criminal gangs who raid villages to loot and kidnap residents en masse for ransom. But attacks have intensified.

Gunmen killed 34 people last weekend in Kaduna State, including two soldiers, with more than 200 homes also destroyed in an attack on four villages in the Kaura local government district. 

The gangs, who were officially declared terrorists by Nigeria in January, operate from camps hidden in a vast forest across Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna and Niger states.

Bandit violence in the northwest is just one challenge facing Nigerian armed forces, who are also battling a 12-year jihadist insurgency in the northeast and separatist tensions in the southeast.

Security experts have warned bandit gangs, who are driven by financial motives, are increasingly forging pragmatic alliances with jihadists from the northeast.

Security forces say they have been bombarding and raiding the forest hideouts and authorities last year also cut telecommunications in some states in an attempt to disrupt bandit communications.

Criminal gangs in the northwest made international headlines last year when they raided a number of schools and kidnapped students in a bid to squeeze more ransom.

Nigeria's bandit violence has its roots in the clashes over land and resources between farmers and nomadic cattle herders in the northwest where tit-for-tat attacks have expanded into wider criminal activity.

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.