Military Airstrikes Kill 135 Bandits, Destroy Camps In Katsina, Zamfara – Spokesman

A file photo of a Nigerian air force airstrike
A file photo of a Nigerian air force airstrike

 

The Nigerian Military on Saturday said it has killed at least 135 armed bandits during air-raids across Katsina and Zamfara states.

According to a statement signed by a military spokesman, Major General, John Enenche, the air raids, executed by the air component of Operation Hadarin Daji, took place between May 20 and 22.

The military said it also neutralised bandit camps.

Nigeria has, in recent years, witnessed a rise in banditry across the country, including in the north-western states of Zamfara and Katsina.

The military said its air-raids, which are conducted based on credible intelligence reports, are intended to rid the north-west of the armed bandits.

 

Read the military full’s statement below:

AIR COMPONENT DECIMATES ARMED BANDITS CAMPS, KILLS 135 OF THEM IN AIR RAIDS CONDUCTED IN KATSINA AND ZAMFARA STATES

1. As part of the renewed offensive to rid the North West of the Country of armed bandits and other criminal elements, the Air Component of Operation HADARIN DAJI has decimated several camps and neutralized no fewer than 135 armed bandits in massive air raids executed at several locations in Katsina and Zamfara States between 20 and 22 May 2020. The air strikes were undertaken sequel to credible Human Intelligence (HUMINT) reports as well as series of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions that led to the identification of the camps, which include Abu Radde Camps 1 and 2 and Dunya in Jibia and DanMusa Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Katsina State as well as Hassan Tagwaye’s Camp; Alhaji Auta’s Camp and Maikomi in Birnin Magaji and Zurmi LGAs of Zamfara State.

2. The air interdiction missions were painstakingly undertaken by the Air Component as it dispatched its attack aircraft to the locations in multiple bombing runs, some of which were executed simultaneously. At the Abu Radde Camps on 20 May 2020, a set of huts housing one of the notorious bandit leaders was taken out by air strikes with scores of the bandits killed and few seen fleeing with gunshot wounds towards the Dumburum Forest. Similar air raids were executed at Hassan Tagwaye’s and Alhaji Auta’s Camps as well as at Maikomi with equally devastating effects. HUMINT reports later confirmed that no fewer than 135 bandits were neutralized by the series of air strikes at the various locations.

3.     The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) commends the Air Component of Operation HADARIN DAJI for their professionalism and directs them to remain resolute, in order to achieve the directives of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)to restore normalcy to all parts of Nigeria.

4.     You are please requested to disseminate this information, along with the attached declassified short video clip of the attack on Abu Radde’s Camps, through your medium for the awareness of the general public. Thank you for your usual support and cooperation.

JOHN ENENCHE
Major General
Coordinator
Defence Media Operations
Defence Headquarters
23 May 2020

Russian Military Helicopter Crashes Outside Moscow

The downdraft from a police helicopter blows away surf from beachside rocks in Scheveningen, The Netherlands, on May 14, 2020. Sem VAN DER WAL / ANP / AFP
PHOTO USED TO ILLUSTRATE STORY: The downdraft from a police helicopter blows away surf from beachside rocks in Scheveningen, The Netherlands, on May 14, 2020. Sem VAN DER WAL / ANP / AFP

 

A Russian army Mi-8 helicopter crashed outside Moscow during a training flight on Tuesday, killing the crew, the defence ministry said.

“As a result of a crash landing the crew of the helicopter died of their wounds,” the defence ministry said.

Defence ministry spokespeople, reached by AFP, declined to specify how many crew members had died.

But Russian news agencies, citing emergencies services, said three people died.

The helicopter, which did not carry ammunition, crashed in a secluded area some 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the town of Klin outside Moscow around 8 pm, the ministry said.

It added that a ministry commission had been dispatched to the scene to look into the causes of the crash.

Citing preliminary information, the ministry said that a “technical malfunction” was believed to have caused the crash.

The Mi-8 is a Soviet-designed twin-turbine helicopter and is often used to transport civilians or troops.

In 2018, a Mi-8 helicopter crashed shortly after takeoff in Siberia, killing all 18 people on board including three crew members.

Senator Accuses Military Of Abandoning Constituency In Sokoto

New Salary Scale Has Not Been Approved For Armed Forces – DHQ
A file photo of troops.

 

 

The lawmaker representing Sokoto East senatorial district, Senator Ibrahim Gobir, has accused the military of abandoning the people of his constituency in the time of distress.

He made the allegation during plenary on Tuesday at the Senate Chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

In his contribution to a motion raised by Senator Sabi Abdullahi, the lawmaker decried that the alleged abandonment of the people has exposed them to attacks by bandits.

Earlier, Senator Abdullahi in his motion drew the attention of the Senate to the activities of bandits in Niger State.

He had also called on the Federal Government to extend its ongoing military operations in Zamfara and Katsina States to flush out bandits in Niger State.

On his part, Senator Gobir criticised the military, saying many of the people in Sokoto have fled to the Niger Republic for safety.

He also accused the military of not responding to distress calls from the people when bandits attack their communities.

According to the lawmaker, the people of Sokoto have lost thousands of cattle worth N2.5 billion to attacks by bandits.

He added that the activities of the bandits have displaced about 5,000 people in Basira area along the border between Nigeria and the Niger Republic.

In their resolution, lawmakers in the Senate commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his proactive leadership and directives on security amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

They, however, appealed to him to direct the military to extend their operations to Kaduna, Niger, Zamfara, Sokoto, and other states where the bandits were attacking innocent citizens.

The Senate also resolved to ask the military authorities to increase their surveillance and track the bandits.

Troops Raid Bandits’ Hideouts In Kaduna, Kill 17

A file photo of soldiers travelling in a truck.

 

 

The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) says troops have killed 17 bandits in a raid on their hideouts in Kaduna State.

Coordinator of Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche, confirmed this in a statement on Sunday.

He explained that the bandits were killed in a joint clearance operation involving troops of Operations Thunder Strike and Whirl Punch, with air support from the Air Component of Operation Gama Aiki.

Major General Enenche added that some other bandits escaped with gunshot wounds in the operation conducted around Mashigi Galbi, Damba community, and Kabarasha villages, all in Gwagwada District of Chikun Local Government Area of the state.

He, however, noted that three empty houses and a church building were partially damaged at Kabarasha village while pursuing the bandits.

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“There was no civilian casualty. The Armed Forces of Nigeria regrets this unfortunate incident and a panel has been set up to investigate the occurrence in liaison with the Kaduna State Government,” said the DHQ spokesman.

He added, “The buildings have been identified with a view to providing adequate compensation to the owners.”

Meanwhile, calm has been restored to the area and a few people who initially fled the area due to fear of reprisal by bandits were said to have returned to the community.

Enenche assured the citizens that the High Command of the Armed Forces of Nigeria would continue to work tirelessly to restore peace and security to the North West.

He also thanked them for their support and cooperation and encouraged them to continue to provide credible information that would facilitate the operations of the military.

Military Destroys Compounds Housing Boko Haram Insurgents In Borno

 

The Nigerian Military says it has destroyed compounds housing Boko Haram terrorist leaders in Borno State.

The Coordinator of Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche, confirmed this in a statement on Wednesday.

He explained that the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole conducted the attacks at Bulawa on the fringes of the Sambisa Forest.

“The air strikes were executed on April 21, 2020, based on credible human intelligence reports as well as Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance missions that led to the identification of the target compounds within the settlement.

“Fighter jets dispatched by the Air Task Force to take out the compounds scored accurate hits in the target area, leading to the destruction of some of the structures as well as the neutralisation of some of the terrorists occupying the compounds,” the statement said.

Major General Enenche added that some Boko Haram fighters who attempted to reposition to engage the attacking aircraft were mopped-up in follow-on attacks by the jets.

He insisted that the military would sustain the offensive against the terrorists, as part of efforts to restore peace and security in the North East.

Key Boko Haram Leaders Killed In Borno Air Strikes – Military

 

The Defence Headquarters says troops have killed several key leaders of the Boko Haram and Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorist groups in Borno State.

Coordinator of Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche, confirmed this in a statement on Monday.

According to him, the terrorists were killed and their structures destroyed in air strikes conducted by the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole at Durbada.

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“The operation was executed on 17 April 2020 on the heels of credible Human Intelligence (HUMINT) reports, which were confirmed by series of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions, indicating that the settlement was one of the locations where some of the terrorists’ hierarchy often hibernate.

“Fighter jets dispatched by the Air Task Force took turns in attacking the location, scoring accurate hits within the target area which resulted in the death of some of the terrorists,” the statement said.

Major General Enenche added that others, who were seen attempting to flee the area, were taken out in follow-on attacks.

He noted that the Armed Forces of Nigeria would continue to sustain the offensive against those he described as the enemies of the nation.

The Coordinator of Defence Media Operations explained that this would be done in furtherance of the objective of restoring peace and security in the North East.

PHOTOS: Zulum Briefs Buhari On Military Operations In Lake Chad

President Muhammadu Buhari with Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on April 9, 2020.

 

 

Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, on Thursday visited President Muhammadu Buhari.

The President received the governor at the Presidential Villa in Abuja where they both discussed some of the major issues affecting the north-eastern state.

During the meeting, Governor Zulum briefed President Buhari on the prevailing security situation following Chadian Military operations on the fringes of the Lake Chad.

The meeting also discussed the recent military action against the Boko Haram terrorist group by the Republic of Chad on the shores of Lake Chad and its implications on Nigeria’s national security.

This followed the recent killing of nearly 100 Chadian soldiers by the insurgents in the region.

Amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Governor Zulum was seen wearing a face mask and a pair of hand gloves during his visit to the Presidential Villa.

See more pictures below:

Military Ready To Enforce COVID-19 Lockdown In Lagos, Abuja, Ogun – DHQ

 

The Defence Headquarters says the military is ready to implement the presidential order on the restriction of movement to curtail the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.

The Coordinator of Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche, announced this on Monday while briefing reporters at the DHQ in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

This comes a day after President Muhammadu Buhari addressed Nigerians on the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In his Sunday broadcast, the President imposed a curfew on Lagos and Ogun States, as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

He also highlighted some of the measures put in place by the Federal Government to curtail the spread of the disease and mitigate its effect on the Nigerian economy.

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The Coordinator of Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche, briefing reporters in Abuja on March 30, 2020.

Addressing reporters on the lockdown order, Enenche said, “The Armed Forces of Nigeria is to implement all restriction on movement, in line with the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“For the avoidance of doubt, this includes the presidential directive given by the President, Commander-In-Chief, during his address to the nation on the COVID 19 pandemic, on 29 March 2020.”

The major general stressed the need for members of the public to adhere to the order aimed at curtailing the spread of coronavirus.

He outlined the efforts of the military to assist in the fight against COVID-19, adding that the only military officer who contracted the virus was already recovering at the isolation centre located at University of Abuja Teaching Hospital in Gwagwalada.

According to Enenche, a committee headed by the Chief of Defence Training and Operations is in place interfacing with all relevant ministries, departments and agencies of the government managing the situation.

He noted that a number of Armed Forces of Nigerian medical personnel have been earmarked to be trained on the management of COVID 19 cases, in liaison with Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

“In the same vein, about 48 Disaster Response Units of the Armed Forces of Nigeria are on Notice To Move in conjunction with NEMA.

“These units will handle operations other than medicals that may arise in the course of this non-kinetic military operation,” the military spokesman explained.

He added, “The High Command of Nigerian Military hereby solicits for the support of the general public in this trying period of the fight against COVID-19.

“This can be achieved by adhering to all the medical and administrative guidelines being provided by government at all levels.”

Enenche also disclosed that 17 isolation and treatment centres have been earmarked across the six geopolitical zones of the country.

They are 68 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, Yaba and 2 Division Hospital, Ibadan in the South West, as well as the Military Hospital, Port Harcourt; Navy Reference Hospital, Calabar and Military Hospital, Benin in the South South.

Others include 211 Regiment Group Medical Centre, Owerri and 82 Division Military Hospital, Enugu in the South East, and 161 Nigerian Air Force Hospital, Makurdi and 22 Brigade Medical Centre, Ilorin in the North Central.

The rest are 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, Kaduna; 465 Nigerian Air Force Hospital, Kano; 263 Nigerian Air Force Reference Hospital, Daura and 119 Composite Group Medical Centre, Sokoto in the North West, as well as 261 Nigerian Air Force Reference Hospital, Bauchi; 163 Nigerian Air Force Hospital, Yola; 7 Division Military Hospital, Maiduguri and 27 Task Force Brigade Field Ambulance, Damaturu in the North East.

Top Boko Haram Commander, Abu Usamah Killed – Military

Air Force Officer Dismissed For Raping 14-Year-Old IDP

 

The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) says a top commander of the Boko Haram terrorist group, Abu Usamah, has been killed.

The Acting Director of Defence Media Operations, Brigadier General Benard Onyeuko, revealed this in a statement on Monday.

He explained that troops of Operation Lafiya Dole had decimated some key Boko Haram insurgents on March 22, 2020.

Onyeuko noted that the soldiers who were conducting a special clearance operation in a subsidiary operation called Operation Ayiso Tamonuma, had an encounter with the terrorists at Gorgi in Damboa Local Government Area of Borno State.

He recalled an earlier press briefing in which the military reported that over 100 insurgents were killed while scores of them escaped with gunshot wounds.

According to the brigadier general, this is in addition to several equipment casualties suffered by the Boko Haram members.

“As an update to that report, it is gratifying to note that, own communication intercept confirmed by accurate intelligence revealed that a top Boko Haram Commander, Abu Usamah, was among those Boko Haram insurgents killed during that encounter,” the statement said.

It added, “He (Usamah) had earlier sustained fatal gunshot wounds in the firefight that ensued during the encounter before his foot soldiers hurriedly evacuated him and withdrew.

“Nevertheless, Abu Usamah died in the process. His death has no doubt created a consequential vacuum in the Boko Haram leadership, particularly as the gallant troops remain resilient and continue to rout the criminal elements from their last enclaves in the North East.”

In another development, Onyeuko said troops killed scores of the Boko Haram Terrorists and Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) insurgents who attempted to infiltrate their location in Yobe State on Friday last week.

He noted that the feat was recorded by soldiers of 159 Task Force Battalion under Operation Lafiya Dole deployed in Forward Operating Base Kanama in Yunusari LGA.

The terrorists, he said, were severely decimated by gallant ground troops supported by the Air Component of Operation Lafiya Dole, forcing the insurgents to withdraw in disarray.

The Defence Media Operations Director revealed that during the encounter, a gun truck and various arms and ammunition were captured by the troops.

They included one DSHK gun, two AK 47 rifles and magazines, one Rocket Propelled Grenade bomb, 273 rounds of anti-aircraft gun ammunition, 101 rounds of 7.62mm (NATO) ammunition, 15 jerricans of Premium Motor Spirit, and a Boko Haram flag.

Onyeuko said the Military High Command has congratulated the troops for their resilience, courage and dedication to the noble cause of defending the nation against the criminal elements.

Boko Haram Kills 47 Soldiers In Borno – Military

New Salary Scale Has Not Been Approved For Armed Forces – DHQ
A file photo of troops.

 

 

The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has confirmed the killing of at least 47 soldiers by members of the Boko Haram terrorist group in Borno State.

The Director of Defence Information, Major General John Enenche, disclosed this during a session with reporters on Tuesday in Abuja.

Giving an update on the military operations across the country, he noted that Nigeria was in a fluid conflict situation while the troops were at the frontlines.

Enenche explained that troops of Operation Lafiya Dole were on clearance and fighting patrol operation to Gorgi in Borno between March 21 and 23.

“During consolidation, they (the troops) were ambushed by elements of Boko Haram terrorists. Sadly, we suffered some casualties in the unfortunate attack,” he said.

The DHQ spokesman, however, revealed that the Air Component of Operation Lafiya Dole scrambled immediately to the scene and provided close air support to the ground troops.

He added that the Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) platform, as well as the fighter jets engaged the insurgents, killing some of the terrorists and immobilising a gun truck belonging to them.

“Some others (terrorists) who attempted to withdraw were also mopped up by the jets in follow-on attacks.

“The Defence Headquarters commiserate with the families of our fallen gallant heroes who paid the supreme price in the course of defending our fatherland,” Enenche said.

He assured Nigerians that the military and other security agencies would continue to sustain the offensive against the enemies of the nation.

The military spokesman added that this would be done in furtherance of the objective of restoring peace and security in the North East and other parts of the country.

Contrary to the figures stated by the DHQ, reports say at least 70 soldiers were killed in the ambush on the security operatives’ convoy.

The insurgents reportedly fired rocket-propelled grenades at a lorry conveying the troops as it travelled near Gorgi village on Monday.

Turkey To Continue Military Operation Against Syrian Regime

Turkey on Sunday announced the launch of an offensive against the Moscow-backed Syrian regime, as Ankara put pressure on Europe by opening its border for migrants to seek passage to the continent via Greece.

Tensions have soared between Russia and Turkey — who back opposing forces in Syria’s civil war — after an airstrike blamed on Damascus killed dozens of Turkish soldiers in Idlib last week.

Turkish and Syrian military exchanged fire over the weekend with Syrian forces targetting a Turkish drone and artillery and Ankara claiming to have shot down two Syrian fighter jets.

The situation in rebel-held Idlib was already volatile as the regime supported by Russian air power pressed an assault on the region, killing hundreds of civilians, in a bid to retake the last opposition enclave in an eight-year civil war.

The confrontation between the Russia-backed Syrian military and NATO-member Turkey, which supports Syrian rebels, has prompted worries over a wider conflict and a migrant crisis in Europe similar to 2015.

Migrant numbers have already surged along the rugged frontier after Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, seeking to pressure the EU over Syria, said the country had “opened the doors” to Europe.

Greece said Sunday it has blocked nearly 10,000 migrants at its border with Turkey.

As migrant boats continued to land on Greek islands, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar announced the first confirmation of a full and continuing operation against Damascus.

“Following the heinous attack on February 27 in Idlib, operation ‘Spring Shield’ successfully continues,” Akar said in a video shared by the defence ministry.

Turkish forces hit Syrian regime positions after Erdogan warned Damascus would “pay a price” for the air strike that killed 34 Turkish troops inside Idlib on Thursday.

Under a 2018 deal with Russia meant to bring calm to Idlib, Turkey has 12 observation posts in Syria — but several have come under fire from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

Turkey on Friday said it retaliated by hitting more than 200 Syria regime targets in drone and artillery bombardments.

Turkey wants the international community to establish a no-fly zone over Idlib, where Islamist fighters backed by Ankara pose the biggest obstacle to Damascus seizing back control over all of Syria.

Planes shot down 

Syrian state media reported that Turkey targeted two regime planes over Idlib.

SANA also reported the regime shot down a Turkish drone near the town of Saraqeb, publishing footage of an aircraft tumbling from the sky in flames. That could not be immediately confirmed.

The Turkish defence ministry confirmed one of its drones was shot down and two other anti-aircraft systems had been destroyed.

It added two SU-24 regime planes that were attacking Turkish aircraft were downed.

The latest violence has raised tensions between Moscow and Ankara, but Ankara insists Turkey did not wish to clash with Russia.

Turkish media reported on Sunday that Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin would meet in Moscow on March 5.

Earlier on Sunday, Istanbul police detained the editor-in-chief of the Turkish version of Russia’s Sputnik website as its offices were being searched in Istanbul.

Three of its journalists were also taken to a courthouse in Ankara for questioning, likely related to a Sputnik article in English claiming Turkey’s Hatay province was “stolen” from Syria. Colonial power France ceded the southern region to Turkey in 1938.

The news website later said they had been released.

The Russian and Turkish foreign ministers spoke by telephone on Sunday, Moscow’s ministry said, to discuss preparations for the meeting between Putin and Erdogan, and the safety of the Sputnik journalists.

 Protecting borders 

Some 13,000 migrants have amassed at the Turkey-Greece border, including families with young children who spent the night in the cold, the International Organization for Migration said.

An estimated additional 2,000 migrants arrived at the Pazarkule border gate Sunday, including Afghans, Syrians and Iraqis, according to an AFP reporter.

But as the crowds rushed to enter Europe, Greek police and soldiers blocked 9,972 “illegal entrances” from entering the northeastern Evros region in the past 24 hours, a Greek government source said.

The UN refugee agency spokesman Babar Baloch called for “calm and easing of tensions on the border,” as he urged countries to “refrain from the use of excessive and disproportionate force”.

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on Saturday said the EU was watching “with concern” and stood ready to deploy its Frontex border guard agency.

The developments recalled events in 2015 when over a million migrants fled to Europe, mainly via Greece in what became the continent’s worst refugee crisis since the Second World War.

The EU’s commissioner for migration, Margaritis Schinas, tweeted Sunday he had requested an extraordinary meeting of EU interior ministers to discuss the situation.

Erdogan said Turkey, home to some 3.6 million refugees, did not plan to close the borders because “the (EU) should keep its promises”.

He was referring to the 2016 deal with Brussels to stop the flow of refugees in exchange for billions of euros.

AFP

US, South Korea Postpone Joint Military Exercises Over Coronavirus

South Korean medical workers wearing protective gear visit a residence of people with suspected symptoms of the COVID-19 coronavirus to take samples, near the Daegu branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in Daegu on February 27, 2020.  AFP

 

The US and South Korean militaries on Thursday postponed forthcoming joint exercises as the Asian country announced its biggest increase in coronavirus cases to date. 

The decision to delay the training was made after Seoul declared its highest “severe” alert level over the virus, Combined Forces Command said, adding the postponement was “until further notice”.

The United States has 28,500 troops in South Korea to protect it against the nuclear-armed North, many of them based south of Seoul at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek — Washington’s biggest overseas military facility.

The security allies have previously scaled back annual joint military exercises significantly to facilitate nuclear talks with Pyongyang — which condemns such drills as preparations for an invasion — but a command coordination exercise had been planned for this spring.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) announced more than 500 new infections Thursday, by far its largest rise so far as the virus has spread in the world’s 12th-largest economy. A total of 13 people had died, it added.

The South now has 1,766 cases, the highest number in the world outside China, where the disease first emerged in December and has since spread to dozens of countries.

Vice health minister Kim Gang-lip apologised for “causing concern” with the rapid rise.

But the total is expected to increase further after checks began on more than 210,000 members of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a secretive entity often accused of being a cult that is linked to around half of the country’s cases.

A 61-year-old female member developed a fever on February 10, but attended at least four church services in Daegu — South Korea’s fourth largest city with a population of 2.5 million and the epicentre of the outbreak — before being diagnosed.

Authorities say the list handed over by Shincheonji omits at least 70,000 recent recruits, which the sect said could not be given as they were not yet full members.

South Korea has an advanced medical system, a free press and a strong culture of public accountability, characteristics which observers say lie behind its comparatively high statistics: so far it has carried out more than 65,000 tests on suspected patients nationwide.

But it is politically polarised and more than one million people have signed a petition on the website of the presidential Blue House, calling for the impeachment of President Moon Jae-in over his handling of the outbreak.

Daegu’s hospitals have struggled to cope with the caseload and mayor Kwon Young-jin appealed for medical volunteers to step forward: “I plead to local doctors and nurses. We are absolutely lacking medical staff to treat patients.”

 Growth forecast cut 

Officials have urged the public to be extra cautious, advising citizens to stay home if they have a fever or respiratory symptoms.

Scores of events have been cancelled or postponed as the outbreak has spread in the world’s 12th-largest economy, from K-pop concerts to the start of the K-league football season, while museums and other public venues have closed.

The Korea Baseball Organization said Thursday it was cancelling all 50 pre-season games that were set to begin March 14.

The Bank of Korea has lowered the country’s growth outlook for this year to 2.1 percent, down 0.2 percentage points, citing a contraction in consumption and slowing exports due to the spread of the virus.

Central bank governor Lee Ju-yeol said he expected the economy to shrink in the first quarter, adding: “I believe the impact will be bigger than any other virus outbreaks.”

The Catholic Church in South Korea has said it would suspend all public masses at more than 1,700 churches across the country in response to the contagion.

A group of Catholics who recently returned from a pilgrimage to Israel had been one of the cluster infections.

AFP