No fewer than 23 persons have been killed by bandits in communities in Rafi and Magama Local Government Areas of Niger State.
A commercial bank was also attacked by the bandits who made away with an unspecified amount of cash.
While six were killed in Kagara town, headquarters of Rafi Local Government Area, 17 others were cut down at Dukku village in Magama Local Government Area.
Several others, were injured in the attacks as some were abducted, while many fled into the bushes to escape the onslaught.
This came as three members of a kidnap syndicate were arrested on Wednesday in Ondo State by personnel of the security outfit, Amotekun corps.
It was learned that while some of the bandits held Kagara town hostage, others operated in surrounding villages, moving from house to house, abducting residents and carting away cash and other valuables.
The six persons reportedly killed in the attack included a Vigilante operative.
It was also reliably gathered that a commercial bank located in Kagara was raided and cash yet to be quantified carted away by the bandits.
The bandits were said to have operated freely for close to 12 hours, between 6pm Wednesday to about 4am yesterday, without corresponding response from security agencies in the state before they eventually withdrew to their hideouts in adjoining forests.
At press time, yesterday, many residents in the affected communities were said to still be hiding in bushes and are yet to return back home, while those in Kagara town, headquarters of the local government area, are hiding in their houses, afraid to come out.
One of the residents in Kagara, who spoke with our correspondent on phone, confirmed that most residents were indoors and afraid to come out.
He said: “I am even afraid as I speak with you because I cannot speak out loud. Many people are inside their houses, unable to come out. The raid started around 6pm on Wednesday and overnight till about 4am Thursday (yesterday).
17 persons feared killed in another attack in Niger State
In the attack on Dukku Village in Magama Local Government Area, no fewer than seventeen persons were feared massacred by bandits.
Those already confirmed dead are said to be members of the Vigilante in the area, who were said to have been ambushed while on their way to rescue those abducted by the bandits at Rafi Local Government Area.
Niger State Police Command spokesman, ASP Wasiu Abiodun, could not be reached for confirmation but the State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Alhaji Muhammmad Sani Idris, confirmed the incident but could not give the exact figure of those killed.
He assured that the state government had taken steps towards providing adequate security for the people of the area.
“The governor is worried over the security challenges in the state, especially in the past few days and steps have been taken to give protection to the people of the affected areas in particular and to the state in general.
“We will not be announcing the strategy adopted to rid Niger State of criminal elements but very soon, the insecurity will be over as we will have a breakthrough on the issue,” the commissioner assured.
Meanwhile, the bandits have reportedly vowed not to release the corpses of the Vigilante members killed for burial in retaliation for two of their colleagues also killed by the Vigilante.
6 bandits killed, says CP
However, giving an update on the attacks last night, Mr Adamu Usman, Commissioner of Police in Niger, said while on assessment visit to Kagara yesterday that six of the attackers were killed by policemen during the encounter on Wednesday.
The police commissioner said a policeman, a private security guard, a local vigilante and one resident were gunned down by the bandits, while a boy died as a result of shock.
Usman said the incident occurred at about 6.30 pm on Wednesday, adding that the attackers were forced to abandon four motorcycles as they fled.
He added that the gunmen were unable to gain entrance into the bank during the Kagara attack and had to abort their mission, following superior fire power of policemen.
“I salute the officers and men of Kagara division for demonstrating high level of courage in confronting the armed gunmen.
“The command will continue to provide required support to the officers deployed to fight criminal elements with basic working tools to perform optimally,” he said.
The police commissioner had earlier visited Alhaji Abubakar Salihu, Emir of Kagara, who commended the police for confronting the gunmen.
“If not because of the intervention of armed policemen yesterday, it would have been a disaster as the gunmen had surrounded the entire Kagara town with various form of weapons,” Salihu said.
He called on government at all levels to provide more facilities for the police force, to enable them tackle menace of armed banditry and other criminal elements.
Also reacting, Alhaji Samaila Modibo, Chairman of Rafi Local Government Area, commended the efforts of the police personnel for repelling the attack.
Modibo said the local administration will continue to mobilize residents to support the police with required intelligence information that would aid in apprehending bad elements in the society.
Abdullahi Babayo, Director-General, Nomadic and Conflict Resolution Centre, said that already, the centre had reached out to members on the need to report any person or group of people with questionable character to the nearest security outfit.
Babayo commended the police for confronting the bandits and called for more support from residents in the ongoing fight against criminals in the state.
Niger govt sues for calm
Reacting to the attacks yesterday, Niger State Government appealed to residents of Kagara town in Rafi local government Area of the State to remain calm over the invasion of bandits on the town and surrounding communities between Wednesday and yesterday.
A statement signed by Chief Press Secretary to Governor Abubakar Sani Bello, Mary Noel-Berge, said government was shocked to see video clips showing residents of the area running “helter skelter in panic, fleeing from the attack and called for intervention of the army.”
The governor in a condolence message to people of the local government, said immediate steps will be taken to restore lasting peace to the area, adding that no responsible government would fold its arms and allow law abiding and innocent citizens to be mauled down.
He acknowledged the enormity of the security challenges facing the state but assured the people that the state, in active collaboration with President Muhammadu Buhari and the security agencies, would restore peace back to the affected communities in the local government areas across the state.
Governor Bello commiserated with the families of those who lost their lives in the attack, and prayed for speedy recovery for the injured victims.
He solicited the cooperation of the people for their useful information to the security agencies just as he assured them that their identity will be made confidential.
Amotekun men arrest 3 kidnappers in Ondo
Meanwhile, Amotekun Corps on Wednesday arrested three members of a kidnap gang in Ondo State and subsequently handed them over to the state police command for further investigation and prosecution.
Agbayewa’s abduction on Wednesday came barely 24 hours after the Medical Director of the General Hospital, Idoani, Olufemi Adeogun, and two other health workers, were abducted in the area on Monday.
It was gathered that the kidnappers stormed his sawmill and abducted the victim at gunpoint.
An eyewitness, Comfort Ilesanmi, confirmed that the kidnappers were herdsmen.
Ilesanmi said: “The herdsmen entered the sawmill and kidnapped him immediately but people around quickly raised the alarm and the Amotekun personnel were invited to the scene.”
Commander of Amotekun Corps in the state, Adetunji Adeleye, said the victim was rescued by his personnel after he was abducted by the suspects.
Adeleye said: “Our men (Amotekun Corps) led the police and soldiers to rescue the victim shortly after we heard the news of his kidnap.
“After foiling the kidnap plot, we arrested the three men before handing them over to the police. They have begun giving confessional statements.”
The police image maker, Tee Leo lkoro, confirmed the arrest of the suspects.
He said six suspected kidnappers were eventually arrested in the forest, adding that police detectives were still in the forest combing it for the the medical doctor and two other health workers abducted on Monday.
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