From Salisu Zakari Maradun, Gusau
Armed bandits have yet again attacked villagers in one of the sleepy villages in the predominantly rural state of Zamfara, killing no fewer than 23 persons. The latest casualty figure brings to at least 115 the number of persons killed since October last year in similar attacks by the wandering armed robbers who have terrorised the arid villages along the Nigeria-Niger border areas in Zamfara state.
In the latest incident which occurred in the evening of last Sunday in Dan Gulbi Village of Maru local government area of the state, the attackers, according to sources, launched a massive onslaught on the village, apparently sensing that it was a Market Day, when many people from neighbouring villages throng the village to buy and sell.
A source in the village disclosed that a “large number of people carrying dangerous weapons, including guns, entered into the market and started shots in the air, causing commotion among the people who scampered for their lives, but ultimately shot and killed 23 people”.
Most other eyewitnesses put the death toll in Dan Gulbi at 23, but a local government official claimed that the robbers killed 27 people.
Ibrahim Sidi, an official with the Maru local government council told Associated Press (AP) that he and other officials counted the dead after the attack.
Talatu Mai Tasshi, a woman who escaped the violence, said she hid inside of empty sacks as the gunmen stalked other people preparing to sell their goods.
The operation, according to the source, lasted for about 3 hours and also led to the destruction of valuable items and property including cash, worth millions of naira by the bandits.
Hours later the police went to the scene and evacuated the corpses to a hospital in Gusau, saying that they were investigating the incident.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), ASP Sanusi Amiru, who confirmed the incident, said he will not make further comments on the issue until the Police Commissioner returned from the scene of the incident.
According to a security source, some of the affected towns and their casualties include, Magami where about 35 people lost their lives in two separate attacks; Dansadau lost 15 people in a reprisal attack on it by the bandits after the residents fend off an earlier attack.
Other towns affected include Birnin Magaji which lost at least 36 people who were killed and set ablaze while they were returning from the market in another town, and Lingu Ado which witnessed the killing of more than seven people as a result of the unhindered activities of the armed bandits that appear to have made Zamfara a safe haven for their heinous activities with little or no challenge from security operatives.