By Hamza Ibrahim
MAIDUGURI/KANO, Nigeria (Reuters) - Nigeria's military is urging people in three northwestern states to leave forested areas ahead of a bombing campaign targeting bandits and terrorists, according to local broadcast stations and a military official.
An advertisement running on local television and radio stations warned people in Zamfara, Katsina and the Birnin Gwari area of Kaduna state to leave the forests in advance of a "heavy bombardment."
Murtala Alhasan Umaru, general manager at Zamfara state TV and radio, showed the advertisement to Reuters and said the military asked them to play it. There are versions in local pidgin English, Hausa, Kanuri and Fulani.
A military official reached by phone confirmed the advertisement's authenticity but declined to share his name or any further information.
Armed gangs of men, known locally as bandits, have killed and kidnapped hundreds across northwest Nigeria over the past two years, typically operating from remote forests. The country's thinly stretched armed forces have struggled to secure the large, remote regions.
The advertisement said the bombardment would "protect the life and property of Nigerians."
One man in Zamfara state, Abdullahi Abubakar, said he had heard the broadcast on the radio and had seen military fighter jets flying overhead.
Two other residents in Zamfara, one in Gumi and the other in Shinkafi, said there had been daily bombings since Saturday morning. The two asked Reuters not to identify them by name.
(Reporting by Maiduguri newsroom and Hamza Ibrahim in Kano; Writing by Libby George; Editing by Howard Goller)