The widely held view that Boko Haram terrorists have struck an alliance with bandits was confirmed yesterday by the Federal Government.
The government said the “unholy handshake” is responsible for the upsurge in killings in Plateau and Kaduna states as well as the attack on the Kaduna-bound train from Abuja on March 28.
Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai had hinted at the alliance of the terrorists after the train attack in which nine people were killed and no fewer than 68 people abducted and taken to the forest in Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State.
The terrorists are demanding huge ransoms from the family members of their victims.
In the Plateau attack, more than 100 people were killed, 70 residents were kidnapped and about 100 houses were destroyed by terrorists last Sunday.
Mohammed said: “What is happening now is that there is a kind of unholy handshake between bandits and Boko Haram insurgents.
“Preliminary reports of what transpired at the Kaduna train attack show that there is a kind of collaboration between the bandits and dislodged Boko Haram terrorists from the Northeast.
“I can tell you very confidently that the Federal Government is on top of this matter.
“As I explained here last week, we are fighting an asymmetrical war, a war in which the other side does not obey or recognise the rules of engagement, but where we are compelled to fight according to the rules of engagement.
“What happened two Mondays ago shook the whole country, yes, but that is the modus operandi of terrorists.
“After a month of being decimated, of being defeated, they rally around and make one spectacular attack that will try to retreat the successes of the government, but I can assure you we are not distracted by that.”
On the 72-hour ultimatum by the families of the kidnapped train passengers, Mohammed said the government understood their position.
“The respective arms of government are working to get those victims released.
“I think the Minister of Defence has already addressed the issues.
“One is that what the Federal Government is doing won’t be the subject matter of a press conference, because we have lives at stake.
“The various arms of security are working night and day to unravel the mystery surrounding the attack as a whole.
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“It’s natural for anybody who is a father or a mother of a kidnapped person to be worried and to be concerned, but at the level of government, we appreciate that and we are leaving no stone unturned.
“We’ve done what is necessary; we’ve condoled with the victims, but like the Minister of Defence said, we are not at liberty here to tell you exactly what we’re doing on a daily basis, but I can assure you that we are certainly winning the war.”
Gen Magashi said the government was on top of the situation.
“Security chiefs are working hard to unveil those that are involved. We will tell you very soon about those that are carrying out these attacks.
“For both attacks in Jos and Kaduna, we will explain to the public what is really going on as per our efforts to ensure that all these activities are stopped once and for all.
“We are really on top of the situation, we are planning hard and we will get it out as soon as possible,” the Defence minister said.
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