Multiple sources in Sokoto State have described an attack on a military camp in Sabon Birni local government area of the state by a gang of bandits allegedly led by the notorious Bello Turji.
However, the sources could not say the number of soldiers killed in the “well-coordnated” attack.
When contacted by our reporter to seek their confirmation of the attack, the police said they had no information of such an attack in the state.
Turji, 27, is a ruthless bandit operating in Sokoto and Zamfara States and had on different occasions rejected peace dialogue initiated by both state governments.
The only time he said he was open to dialogue was when Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, Ahmed Gumi, visited his camp in Zurmi (Zamfara State).
Turji is also holding the father, stepmother and uncle of the state House of Assembly Speaker, alongside others.
Usman Tara, a local source living in Sokoto metropolis, said the soldiers were camped in a primary school in Dama village under Sabon Birni where they were attacked.
Mr Tara said “the audacity with which bandits operate in our villages, killing, maiming and taking people hostage, including security personnel, leaves me cold. If these terrorists can exhibit this shameless boldness of taking away the entire team of soldiers, go away with their arms and vehicle, what else remains to assure citizens there of the possibility of return of normalcy?”
Dama, an agrarian community east of Gatawa, is on the border with Niger Republic.
Another source, Basharu Altine, told PREMIUM TIMES that the attack on the soldiers at the primary school in Dama was to neutralise their threat against the bandits.
“Turji recently changed his headquarters and he needed to send across a message as well neutralise the soldiers’morale. They were stationed in the school to protect the people of the area with proximity to Niger Republic,”
Mr Altine, who is the leader of Rundunar Adalci, a human rights protection group in Sokoto State, also said he could not ascertain the number of soldiers killed during the attack.
“He attacked them some minutes after 6 p.m. yesterday (Saturday). Due to overgrown crops and trees, Turji and his commanders were able to surround the school and take the soldiers by surprise.
“I can confirm to you that some of the soldiers were killed but no one knows the number yet, while others have fled to Basira village in Niger Republic. One of their vehicle was also set ablaze,” he added.
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Another source, who requested not to be named, said the absence of mobile telecommunications network must have helped the the rampaging bandits.
“Throughout the attack, the soldiers could not reach out to their colleagues for reinforcement. And even before the attack, if people of the villages around Dama had network, they would have alerted the soldiers because some of them have given out their contacts to the villagers,”
The police spokesperson in Sokoto state, Sanusi Abubakar, said he had not been officially briefed on the attack.
“I don’t know how reliable your story is because I have not heard anything about that. I’ve also not officially briefed. But I will get back to you when I confirm anything,” he said.
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