At least 10 people were feared killed and even more sustained severe injuries in new attacks on two communities in Kaduna State, PREMIUM TIMES learnt Saturday.
Properties were also looted and houses razed during the predawn attacks which witnesses told PREMIUM TIMES occurred in Birnin Gwari Local Government Area, about 125 kilometres west of Kaduna town, and bore the marks of killer herdsmen.
“The herdsmen entered the villages between Friday night and early Saturday morning and killed about 10 people,” a witness said, preferring not to be named.
The Kaduna State police commissioner, Agyole Abeh confirmed the attacks to PREMIUM TIMES Saturday evening but said only four were killed and five injured.
“We have since deployed ‘Operation Dofaji’ and other police components to the area,” Mr. Abeh said.
Witnesses who reported the incident to PREMIUM TIMES said the armed intruders stormed the village of Dangaji around 8:00 p.m. Friday, killing many and leaving several injured.
Another attack in a nearby community of Unguwar Gajere was also hit in a predawn assault by the unidentified suspects, who are still at large at the time of filing this report Saturday evening.
It was in Unguwar Gajere, which falls under Kutemeshi District, that the attackers killed 10 people on Saturday morning, witnesses said.
It was not immediately clear why the attackers struck in the two villages.
While deadly attacks are not uncommon in Birnin Gwari, which falls under Kaduna Central Senatorial District, most of the deadly incidents in recent years have been blamed more on armed bandits than herdsmen.
At least 20 were reported killed in an April 2015 attack which the police treated as a case of armed robbery.
Attacks relating to the alleged rustling of cows in the area had also been reported in recent years.
Mr. Abeh indicated that the latest attacks involved suspected herdsmen and members of the local vigilante groups, but did not elaborate, saying he was at a meeting.
The locals said it was true that the vigilante men tried to repel the invaders, but were largely overpowered.
“They caused a lot of damage because the vigilante groups were not adequately equipped to contain them,” a witness said.
The attacks come as the attention of the country remains largely focused on the recent killings in Benue State.
At least 70 persons, including three policemen, were killed in suspected herdsmen attacks on villages in Benue between December 31 and January 8, according to state overnment officials.
The state government conducted a mass burial for the victims in a village near the Air Force Base in Makurdi, the state capital, on January 12.
As part of his administration’s response to the incidents, President Muhammadu Buhari on January 9 ordered the immediate relocation of Inspector-General of Police Ibrahim Idris to Benue.
Mr. Idris, who arrived the state on January 11, said he had deployed over 660 police officers in more than 10 units across the state, promising to deploy additional officers to five more units in the coming days.