At least 20 persons were killed on Thursday and Friday in reprisal attacks between vigilante group and bandits in Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State.
Residents of the area and hospital officials confirmed the casualty figure during a visit to the area by Premium Times’ reporter.
According to residents, the tragic chain of events began when bandits killed three persons during a raid on Ruwan-Tofa on Thursday.
Following the incident, members of a vigilante group on Friday launched a reprisal attack on a cattle market in Dansadau, killing 16 persons of Fulani ethnic stock and leaving five others severely injured.
The state government had banned vigilante groups from operating in the state following complaints by the Fulani community that they were indiscriminately attacking its members.
A resident, who asked not to be named for security reason, said one of the three persons killed in Ruwan-Tofa on Thursday was a prominent member of the local vigilante group, Sanusi Manu.
The resident said that Mr Manu’s father, Alhaji Maiburkasa, had also been killed seven years ago by bandits.
Since his father’s killing, Mr Manu had been active in defending communities in the Dansadau area against the operations of bandits, other sources told PREMIUM TIMES.
They said it was Mr Manu’s death that provoked members of his vigilante group to embark on the reprisal attack on the cattle market in Dansadau, Friday morning.
But on Friday evening, suspected bandits launched a fresh attack at Mai-Tukunya to avenge the event earlier that day at the Dansadau market.
One Nasiru Habibu was killed in that attack, while four others were injured and hundreds of livestock rustled, the source added.
Health workers told PREMIUM TIMES that security personnel deposited 16 corpses from the market attack at the Dansadau hospital’s mortuary between Friday and Saturday.
“Among those killed in the market attack was a prominent Fulani leader, Barume Saulawa. Also, many herdsmen accompanied by security agents were at the hospital on Saturday morning to search for the remains of their loved ones,” one of the workers said.
The sources asked not to be named because they had no authority to speak with journalists.
“The security agents released identified corpses to the herdsmen but some left without finding their brothers, indicating that many more had died or went missing from the attack on the market.
“As I speak with you now (Saturday evening), only two corpses are yet to be claimed. They are still at the mortuary. Five injured victims were sneaked out of the hospital over fears that their attackers may return for them,” the hospital official said.
Some residents also accused security agents of failing to act to prevent the reprisal attack of Friday evening on Mai-Tukunya.
They said the community was forewarned of the attack and reported it to the security forces, adding that in spite of the report, the attackers operated for about three hours looting and attacking people unchallenged.
The residents said there had been tension in Dansadau district for weeks over the fate of Mustapha Umar (who holds the traditional title of ‘Wazirin Dansadau’), his younger brother, Isah Umar, and one other resident, Tukur Maigari, all of whom were kidnapped over a month earlier.
Residents also accused the state government and security agents of not doing enough to protect them.
They said the attacks and kidnapping persisted in Dansadau area because security agents seldom respond to distress calls.
The state government did not respond to a PREMIUM TIMES’ request for its comments for this report.
The state’s commissioners for Security and Home Affairs, Abubakar Dauran, and Information, Ibrahim Dosara, did not respond to several phone calls and text messages on Saturday and Sunday seeking their official comments.
Also, the police spokesperson in Zamfara State, Muhammad Shehu, did not respond to several phone calls and a text message on Saturday and Sunday.
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