Bandits at the weekend unleashed terror on communities in Sokoto and Zamfara States, gunning down 62 persons.
Thirty seven persons were feared dead and several others injured in the attacks on Raka, Raka Dutse and Filingawa communities in Tangaza Local Government Area of Sokoto State.
This happened two days after President Bola Tinubu, in his maiden meeting with the service chiefs and heads of intelligence agencies at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, demanded a centralised coordination of security architecture and charged them to renew efforts towards ending insecurity.
The latest attacks on the three Sokoto villages, said to be carried out on Saturday evening, were seen as a setback to the relative peace in the state.
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Confirming the incident, the immediate past chairman of the local government, Bashar Kalenjeni, said 18 persons were killed at Raka, 17 at filingawa and two at Raka Dutse.
He said several villagers sustained gunshot injuries; while many others were still missing.
He said the assailants disrupted the burial initially planned for Saturday night.
“We wanted to bury them in the night, but the bandits came back and dispersed us. As at this (Sunday) morning, the deceased are still there unburied,” Kalenjeni said
He said before the attack, the villagers had refused to pay the levies imposed on their communities by the bandits.
He stated: “The bandits imposed levies on their communities which was meant to take charge with immediate effect, and also dictating to residents on what to and not to do.
“But the villagers refused to succumb and because of that, they attacked them, killing 37 persons; while several others sustained various degrees of gunshot injuries and currently receiving treatment at General Hospital, Gwadabawa.
“There are others who are still unaccounted for.
“Right now, we are waiting for security operatives to lead us to the villages in order to bury the dead ones.”
A resident of Gidan Madi, the headquarters of Tangaza local government area, Kabiru Gidan Madi, corroborated Kalenjeni’s account that the attacks followed the refusal of the communities to pay levies to bandits.
He said this was the first attack on Filingawa village unlike Raka village where attacks had become rampant.
Daily Trust learnt that the victims were buried around 3pm yesterday after security operatives were deployed to the area.
Madi said Tangaza village has been a soft target for bandits because it is surrounded by two forests.
“There is Tsauna forest which stretches over to Gwadabawa, Illela and Niger Republic. There is also Dajin Kuyan Bana which stretches over to Gudu and Niger Republic.
“These forests serve as a hideout for bandits because of the mountains inside.
“At Kuyanbana, there used to be Lakurawa who claimed to be jihadits from neighbouring countries like Niger Republic, Mali and Libya. Initially, they were not attacking any community. They were only coming, preaching to us and going back. In fact, there were instances where they attacked bandits and rescued some of their victims.
“But as time went on, they started rustling our livestock, but they don’t kidnap or kill.
“The Tsauro forest is full of bandits suspected to be coming from the Niger Republic.
“They attack our communities, kill, abduct people, rustle animals and run back to their country.
“The bandits and Lakurawa were previously sworn enemies, but they have now joined forces, making it very difficult for the security operatives to tackle the insecurity in the area.
“When there is a military attack on bandits hiding at Tsauro forest, they escape into Dajin Kuyan Bana and vice versa,” he said.
When contacted, the spokesman of the Sokoto State Police Command, ASP Rufa’i Ahmad, confirmed the attacks, but said the command was yet to get detailed information from the Divisional Police Officer in charge of the area because he was in the forest with the military.
He promised to get back to our correspondent as soon as he was briefed about the incident.
He did not get back as of the time of filing this report.
Sokoto State, just like some other states in the North West, had recorded many bandits’ attacks on its villages.
In Zamfara State, the Saturday’s attacks by bandits on two villages in Maradun Local Government Area left at least 25 persons dead.
The attacks were launched barely one week after more than 25 people, including 16 vigilantes, were killed by bandits at Kanoma district in Maru Local Government Area of the state.
Residents told Daily Trust that the armed criminals invaded Janbako village on Saturday and shot dead more than 20 people.
The bandits, according to the locals, later moved to Sakkida village where they also killed five persons.
“They arrived at the village on motorbikes around 2pm and opened fire on the residents. The highly frightened residents scrambled into their houses for safety.
“Thereafter, the armed criminals moved to Sakkida community and shot dead five people there. Some of the slain residents have been buried,” a resident, Buhari Saminu, said.
Reacting, Zamfara State Governor Dauda Lawal described the attacks as a barbaric and unprovoked aggression against innocent people.
He vowed that his administration would not fold its arms and allow criminal elements to unleash terror without repercussions.
The governor, who spoke through his Senior Special Assistant on Broadcast Media, Public and Press Affairs, Mustapha Jafaru Kaura, said the incident happened at a time when his government was working hard towards strategizing on how to bring an end to the protracted security problem in the state.
“A directive has been issued to the heads of security agencies in the state to as a matter of urgency deploy more security personnel to the affected communities to forestall further destruction of lives and properties in the area.”
The spokesman of the state police command, ASP Yazid Abubakar, could not be reached for comment.
But in a statement yesterday, Abubakar said the Commissioner of Police in Zamfara State had successfully rescued nine children of Gora Namaye village of Maradun LGA abducted by bandits.
“On 3rd June, 2023 at about 2014hrs information received from the district Head of Gora Namaye village that nine (9) children, both male and female, who were sent on errand by their parents to the bush to fetch firewood were intercepted and abducted by armed bandits.
“On receipt of the report, nearby joint police and other security agencies mobilized to the scene and commenced search and rescue operation which resulted in the rescue of the nine children and reunited them with their families unconditionally. Efforts are still on in tracing the hoodlums for prosecution.
“Meanwhile joint police and military patrols around the axis to disallow re-occurrence of the incident are being intensified,” he stated.