How bandits Attacked , killed over 80 Persons in Zamfara
A fortnight ago, a series of horrific assaults on two Zamfara villages caused yet another blood spillage. The attacks, which many believe are retaliatory, left more than 80 people dead, Daily Trust on Sunday reports.
In Zamfara State two weeks ago, armed bandits launched a series of deadly raids on two rural communities in Anka and Shinkafi local government areas. More than 80 people were killed in at least three major attacks from Tuesday to Sunday. The raids were mostly targeted at the members of the Civilian Joint Task Force.
The attack on Kawaye village on Tuesday was the deadliest since April 2018 when the armed bandits killed more than 30 in Jarkuka and Kuru-Kuru villages.
Some local vigilantes told Daily Trust on Sunday that the Kawaye attack was triggered by the arrest and execution of a suspected armed bandit at a goldmine in the Gonar Hajiya area of the district.
“Armed bandits have been frequenting the goldmine at Gonar Hajiya area. They were invading the site and kidnapping miners for ransom and robbing them of cash, gold and other valuables.
“The local miners became very infuriated and irritated and decided to fight back. One afternoon, when the armed men struck, the local vigilantes ganged up against them. Subsequently, one of the bandits was caught and executed while his rifle and motorbike were seized.
“That action angered the armed bandits and they attacked Kawaye village in retaliation, where they believed most of the vigilantes came from,’’ a vigilante leader, Sani Hussaini said.
A resident, Aliyu Muhammad, said more than 50 villages in Sabon Birni, Wuya and Kawaye districts had been deserted. He added that the armed bandits had been imposing levies on the communities as a precondition for peace.
Muhammad said, “The armed men have imposed N2 million levy on Kawaye about three times, but we did not oblige to their demands. That’s why they vowed to attacks us. And they made real their threats.
“After the attack, we learnt that they met at Dawan Jiya, a village located 9 kilometers east of Kawaye and planned these deadly raids. No good person stays in Dawan Jiya. All the good people have left the village, including the village head of the community. Only suspicious characters are there.
“Dawan Jiya residents knew about the impending attack on Kawaye but they did not bother to reveal the secret to us. In fact, two days before the attack, the sons of the Dawan Jiya village head, who had earlier migrated to Kawaye, came here and took him to Anka town.
“In the same vein, the people of Gobirawa village saw the armed gang riding on motorbikes as they headed to Kawaye in that fateful evening, but none of them called to inform us.
“We are calling on the concerned authorities to, as a matter of urgency, dislodge the remaining people in Dawan Jiya and Gobirawa communities because they are aiding the activities of armed criminals.’’
Muhammad, who narrowly escaped the carnage, said the bandits stormed the community in a commando style and started firing at residents indiscriminately. They torched about 10 vehicles, including motorbikes and bicycles, as well as shops and residential houses before they fled the community. They also abducted the district head of the village, his wife and 40 others.
“I escaped the carnage because when they arrived I had gone out of the community in search of medicinal herbs in a nearby bush. When I heard gunshots from the community I quickly left for Bagega, a neighbouring village,’’ he added.
He further said the remains of those killed were later gathered and buried, adding that it took them hours to bury them because the bandits normally returned to kill those who had gone to bury the dead. According to him, this happened in Bawar Daji village and many other communities last year.
Another resident identified as Murtala, said the armed men arrived on many motorbikes few minutes to 6pm when young boys were playing football on a field situated at the outskirts of the community.
“When they came, they did not shoot anyone there, otherwise the casualty figures would have been high. They went straight into the community and started firing gunshots into the air and everyone scampered for safety.
“They burnt a block of classrooms where security operatives were stationed. They also set two vehicles ablaze. Some of them were going from house to house searching for residents who attempted to hide.
“Among the dead was a boy who hid inside a shop where phone accessories were sold. The shop also served as a commercial charging point for phones in the community. The little boy was left behind by the owner of the shop.
“The bandits looted all the phones in the shop and torched it, with the boy inside. He was suffocated by the heavy plume of smoke,’’ he narrated.
Murtala further said most of the residents were killed while working on their farms. He added that one of the victims, who attempted to hide, was brought out of his house and shot dead.
“As he went inside his house, they ran after him, brought him outside the house and fired several shots at him at a close range,’’ he said.
Daily Trust on Sunday learnt that the gunmen tricked people as no single gunshot was fired for several minutes and those who had hid thought they had withdrawn. Deceived by the temporary calmness, residents started coming out of their hiding places, but unknown to them, the bandits were still in the community.
Also, more than 200 sheep and goats were herded away by the gunmen.
“As I am talking to you, they have released about 35 women and children they abducted, but some are still being held in captivity. The situation is terrible and a lot of people have deserted the community, thus compounding the problem of internally displaced persons.
“The community accommodated dozens of people displaced by the unending deadly attacks and kidnappings in other villages. They were taking refuge here, but they have been displaced again. We are appealing to the concerned authorities to look into our plight,’’ he begged.
Two days later, the bandits killed more than 30 members of the Civilian JTF in Kware village in Shinkafi Local Government Area of the state. They stormed a checkpoint mounted by the local vigilantes near Kware, a village located 18 kilometers east of Shinkafi town, the headquarters of the local government.
“The market in Shinkafi Local Government used to hold on Thursdays and the local vigilantes manned the road leading to the market from the village to facilitate smooth passage and provide cover for local traders. However, the armed men, in a large number and on motorbikes, stormed the spot where the vigilantes stationed themselves and started firing at them. You know they are sworn enemies.
“That incident weakened members of the vigilante group. Two days later, the bandits returned to Kware and killed more than 30 people again. The situation is serious,’’ Ali Sani, a resident said.
The commissioner of police, Zamfara State command, Celestine Okoye, told Daily Trust on Sunday that part of what is worsening the situation is how some youths in the state are attacking the Fulani.
“Some youths are going after the Fulani and this is triggering reprisals. There is also the issue of cattle rustling. You can’t take somebody’s source of survival and he would be happy with you. The command is doing its best to curb the menace of killings in the state,’’ he said.