Image used for illustrative purpose only

Bandits kill policeman, 44 others in Kaduna, Sokoto

The bandits yesterday morning killed 29 people, including a mobile policeman, when they invaded Karmai village, Maro Ward in Kajuru Local Government Area, in Southern Kaduna.

Because of the killings, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday met behind closed doors with Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Also, the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, said 16 people were murdered by bandits at Dalijan, Rakkoni and Kalhu communities in Rabah Local Government Area.

Aside the mobile police officer who was killed, a police van used to respond to the attack was burnt.

A community leader in the area, who pleaded anonymity, disclosed the casualty figure in a telephone interview with journalists in Kaduna, from Kajuru.

He also disclosed that several houses in the community, including two churches were also razed.

The community said some of the bodies were burnt beyond recognition, adding that some of the villagers, who ran into the bush to escape the attack, were still missing as they had not been seen.

He said: “We have recovered 28 corpses so far. Some were burnt beyond recognition. Several houses, including two churches were burnt down.

“Some members of our community are still missing; many of them who ran into the bush are yet to come. We do not know whether they are dead or alive.”

The community leader, however, said the situation was relatively calm following the deployment of more security personnel to the area.

When contacted for his reaction via a text message, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Yakubu Sabo, said he would get back, but never did at press time.

In the Kaduna attack, the gunmen stormed the community in the morning, shooting at anyone in sight.

The bandits also set fire to houses and killed anyone who ran out of their homes.

A witness, who ran into the bush to escape the attack, said the gunmen were in hundreds and dressed in military uniforms, pursuing people into the bush and residents scattered in different directions as they run for their dear lives.

The witness said the villagers attempted to repel the attackers initially, but could not withstand their fire power and had to run into the bush.

“The gunmen came this morning (yesterday); over a 100 of them. They were fully dressed in military uniform. Initially our people attempted to repel them, but they couldn’t withstand the superior firepower of the Fulani,” he said on the phone.

The source, however, said mobile policemen had been drafted to the area, with the support of soldiers to contain the attackers.

It was learnt that a vehicle belonging to the “Operation Yaki,” the state government security outfit, which conveyed the mobile policemen to the area, was burnt by the rampaging herdsmen.

“Mobile policemen came but also retreated. One Operation Yaki vehicle was burnt by the bandits as the mobile police tried to run for cover.

“Soldiers have been deployed in the community and are engaging the Fulani.

“Our people have been killed and our houses have been burnt. For now, it is difficult to say how many people have been killed until the situation is calm,” the source said.

The attack is believed to be a reprisal over the recent killing of Fulani in the area.

The state government has condemned the attack and called on the people to remain calm.

Meanwhile, Tambuwal, who addressed a press conference yesterday in Sokoto, said the incident occurred on Monday night.

The governor called on security agencies to intensify efforts at safeguarding the people’s lives and property.

Commiserating with victims and their families, Tambuwal prayed God to grant them the fortitude to bear the loss.

Tambuwal also spoke on post-election violence in his state, which he blamed on the opposition.

The governor said the situation had negated calls for peaceful campaigns and elections devoid of thuggery.

He said: “During the elections, we experienced developments that clearly exhibited continued determination of the opposition to engage in do-or-die politics.

“Leaders and loyalists of our party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were harassed, hounded and arrested by security agents even on the Election Day.

“The opposition also engaged in post-election mayhem, with attacks and arson on law-abiding citizens.

“Many properties and houses were razed in Wamakko and Kware towns as well as parts of Sokoto metropolis in a show of terror against perceived opponents and non-partisan members of the public.”

In a statement, Samuel Aruwan, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to Governor el-Rufai, condemned the recourse to violence in the community.

He said: “The Kaduna State government today (Tuesday) received the sad news of renewed attacks in Kajuru and Kachia local government areas.

“The government condemns this recourse to violence, and calls on all communities to support the efforts to restore calm in the area.

“Today, the Kaduna State government was briefed by security agencies of renewed attacks in Kajuru Local Government Area, and in parts of neighbouring Kachia Local Government Area.

“The Kaduna State government has been assured that the security agencies are working assiduously to contain the situation.

“Government is saddened by these attacks, condemns the perpetrators and urges all residents of the area to support the security agencies in their efforts to protect communities.”

It was learnt that President Buhari and el-Rufai’s meeting was not unconnected with recent violence in Kaduna where over 130 persons were allegedly killed.

Competent Presidency sources confirmed that el-Rufai used the opportunity of the meeting to brief the President on the findings about attacks in some communities in Kajuru and Kachia local government areas of the state.

The governor had earlier confirmed fresh attacks on some communities in Kajuru and Kachia local government areas.

But no official confirmation was yet to be issued on the outcome of the meeting between the President and the governor.

El-Rufai had on February 19 told State House Correspondents after briefing an expanded security meeting presided over by President Buhari, that the death toll as a result of the communal clash in the Kajuru Local Government Area had risen to 130 as against the previous figure of 66.

The governor had also promised that his government was ready to make public, the pictures of the victims and footages of how the Army had to be there to help bury the dead two days after they were killed because their bodies were decomposing.

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