Bandits have shot dead, five vigilantes and one hunter in an ambush at the Lafiya-Kpada-Duma forest in Niger State while on an operation to rescue kidnapped victims.
Daily Trust on Sunday learnt that six other vigilantes sustained various degrees of bullet wounds in the attack.
A member of the vigilante who was part of the operation but preferred anonymity said the incident happened on Friday afternoon after some vigilantes from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Niger State mobilised to the forest to rescue some 22 farmers that were abducted on a farm at Rafin-Daji community in Abaji Area Council of Abuja on Wednesday.
He said the vigilantes and hunters were approaching the forest some kilometres from Lafiya Kpdada-Duma communities when the bandits laid ambush and opened fire on them.
He said some of the bandits that were hiding on top of trees opened fire and killed five of his members and a hunter.
He said the victims died due to loss of excess blood, saying the road leading from the forest to Yaba was not motorable to enable them to evacuate the deceased to the hospital.
The commander, Niger State Vigilante Corps, Lapai division, Muhammadu Ibrahim, told our correspondent that two vigilantes from the state and three others from the FCT, as well as one of the farmers, kidnapped from Duma village, Lapai Local Government, were killed during the encounter.
Our reporter who visited the Accident and Emergency Unit of the Abaji General Hospital saw six of the vigilantes with various bullets being attended to by the medical personnel on duty.
Daily Trust on Sunday reliably gathered that the bandits have a hideout in a reserved forest under Lapai Local Government Area of Niger State, which connects Yaba in the Abaji Area Council of Abuja.
The spokesman of the FCT police command, ASP Oduniyi Omotayo was yet to comment on the incident as a text message to him had not been replied to at the time of filing this report.