Abuja — NIGERIAN police have shot dead more than 100 suspected bandits and arrested 85 culprits during operations northwest of the country.
An officer has however been killed as the suspects ambushed the law enforcers at a forest seen as a stronghold of criminals in the Zamfara State.
About 1 000 police personnel were deployed in the area last month to counter a number of crimes including armed banditry, kidnapping and livestock rustling.
Police have recovered AK rifles and other locally made weapons.
More than 500 livestock including cattle and sheep have been recovered.
"The police team has restored normalcy and peace in the affected areas," said Jimoh Moshood, Nigeria police spokesman.
Confirming the killing of 104 suspects, he urged members of the public with information leading to the arrest of more suspects to contact police.
Nigeria, Africa's biggest country by population, with over 190 million people, has a reputation for violent crime.
It is feared the bloodshed, especially by the Boko Haram terror group, could scuttle the peaceful conduct of elections set for February.
Last week, Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Mohamed Ibn Chambas, appealed to stakeholders in Nigeria "to make the 2019 elections a success in the interest of the country, the sub-region and the continent."