By Iliya Kure
More than 30 people were buried in Bawan Daji village of Zamfara State, northwest Nigeria, following attack on the village by gunmen, which sources say left about 60 people dead.
Reports say, the attack came after village vigilante group, strategised on security measures against the bandits, especially that the 2018 farming season approaches.
The bandits had threatened the villagers that there would be no farming activities in the area, in the 2018 farming season.
“It was shortly after our local vigilante members held the meeting on Tuesday that the bandits finally struck and killed only men including those who tried to escape,” said Liman Umar, deputy Imam of the village, in a chat with journalists, adding that the bandits had been harassing people in the area, brandishing sophisticated weapons without talking to anyone.
Mr. Umar said, many bodies were found decomposing in the bushes, and that some of the corpses could not be brought into the village for proper burial because people were afraid to go and get them as the bandits were believed to be hiding on the outskirts of the village.
He said one of the villagers, Danladi Shabalai, who was caught communicating with the bandits, was shot and killed by security men.
Chairman of Anka Local Government, Mustapha Gado, confirmed that 32 persons were buried including a woman and her child who died at a hospital in Gusau.
Mr. Gado said more bodies were still being searched for in the bushes and that security measures had been stepped up in the area, but that the villagers had all ran away out of fear that the bandits might return.
Police spokesman in Zamfara State, Muhammad Shehu, also confirmed the attack, he told journalists, “Armed bandits attacked Bawon-Daji village yesterday and killed 15 people,”
The Senator representing the area, Kabiru Marafa (APC, Zamfara Central), has accused Zamfara State Government of covering up recurring killings in the state.
Mr. Marafa told the senate plenary on Thursday that in the latest attack, the bandits held two villages hostage for more than 24 hours.
“Such incident happens almost everyday in Zamfara. What is more worrisome about it is the fact that the local authorities do not want anybody to say it. They don’t report it. The local radio doesn’t report it. The local newspaper doesn’t report anything.
“Women are being snatched from their husbands. Just two weeks ago, a bride was snatched from her husband and from a marriage that was just two weeks old. She was raped and hospitalised,” he said.
Mr. Marafa spoke at the Senate on Thursday on the latest killings in his state.
Attacks on Zamfara communities by armed bandits re-occurred on Wednesday leading to the death of at least three persons.
Attacks are common in the area, especially by cattle rustlers who invade villages and cease cows and other animals. Each attack leaves scores of people dead, injuring several others.
Last year, bandits held villages in the area in captive, making farmers pay money before they could gain access to their farms.
Same style of attacks are conducted by bandits in villages surrounded by forests on borders of Zamfara State, Birnin Kebbi, Niger State and Kaduna State.
Last week bandits killed 11 soldiers of the Nigerian Army, who were stationed in Birnin Gwari forest, in Kaduna State, to provide security in the area.
Governors of the 4 States met last year on how to improve security in the area, but activities of the bandits have continued unabated.