LAGOS, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- The Nigerian Armed Forces have intensified their crackdown on extremists and bandit groups to address security threats in the country, Defense Minister Bashir Magashi said Saturday.
The military and other security agencies have cooperated to force criminals out from their hideouts, Magashi told a security conference held in the nation's capital Abuja.
Security operatives have been deployed to highways susceptible to armed hijacks, as well as to north-central and northwest regions to track down militants hiding in forests, he said, adding that they have destroyed several camps of militants and rescued kidnapped victims.
Over 70,000 militants and their families have surrendered to troops in recent months, and thousands of displaced people have returned home, he said.
In southern Nigeria, troops were fighting to thwart the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra group and reduce crimes such as crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism, he said. ■