UPDATED: Bandits invade Birnin-Gwari, kill police officers, many others

Kaduna State map used to illustrate the story.
Kaduna State map used to illustrate the story.

Armed bandits riding on motorcycles descended on a village in Kaduna State on Saturday, killing, kidnapping and injuring residents before setting their properties on fire, PRNigeria reported on Sunday.

The police in Kaduna told PREMIUM TIMES Sunday afternoon that two police officers were killed in the attack. They were identified as Aliyu Mohammed, an inspector, and Rabiu Abubakar, a sergeant.

The police also said another sergeant, Ibrahim Nasir, was injured alongside six residents. All the injured had been taken to the hospital while search and rescue for those feared abducted had commenced.

Witnesses who spoke with PRNigeria in the wake of the attack said the bandits entered Kakangi village in Birnin-Gwari Local Government Area at about 5:00 p.m.

The attackers went on a rampage that included shooting at a police station and burning of homes and markets.

An escapee told of how he was sitting by the police station when the gunmen arrived, adding that thick smoke was still billowing from the scene as of the time he escaped through a perimeter fence.

PRNigeria, which covers the security sector, said many people were feared killed in the attack, including high profile indigenes of Kakangi that were attending a mass wedding.

Six persons with various injuries were taken to the General Hospital in Birnin-Gwari town, about 20 kilometres from Kakangi, PRNigeria cited Abubakar Nagwari, head of a local security group, as saying.

Kaduna police spokesperson, Yakubu Abubakar, said the police quickly responded to an emergency call from Kakangi at about 7:00 p.m. Saturday. He said police officers killed three of the attackers.

He said the police would speed up the thorough search and rescue for other victims, while also chasing some of the attackers who were at large.

Birnin-Gwari has seen frequent attacks from bandits in recent years, despite heightened security measure in the area. Bandits are regularly suspected in the attacks, but occasional skirmishes between warring villages had been reported.

It was not immediately clear whether the attackers came from within the state, or from neighbouring Katsina or Zamfara, where hundreds have been killed by rampaging armed bandits.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday ordered a ban on mining activities in Zamfara after Nigerians held a protest in Abuja to condemn his seeming helplessness amidst a gloomy security situation that had prevailed for several years.

The Inspector-General of Police, who briefed journalists on Sunday, said the government gave the directive because it observed a relationship between banditry and illegal mining in the state.

It, however, remains to be seen how far the latest directive would go. In November 2017, the president reacted to a similar outrage about the killings by ordering the creation of a new battalion for Zamfara.

In order to further secure the area, a brigade was also moved from Sokoto State to Zamfara, while Sokoto received a new division.

But little appeared to have changed years on, even though the military reported frequent assaults on bandits’ hideouts.

Over the past week, both the Nigerian Army and the police have announced the commencement of separate operations to tackle armed attackers in Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara and Sokoto.

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