The Governor of Niger State, Abubakar Bello, has confirmed the report that several residents, including women and children fleeing from gunmen, drowned in the Guni-Zumba River.
The victims were inhabitants of Guni and Kurgbaku communities in Munya local governments of the state.
The governor’s media aide, Mary Noel-Berje, in a statement on Thursday described the incident as painful and disturbing.
He condoled with the family members of the deceased and the entire people of Munya Local Government Area.
“The attacks which were said to be simultaneous forced the people to flee in an overloaded boat which later capsized killing all on board as no one was said to be rescued,” the official said.
The governor has directed the state emergency agency to immediately commence search and rescue operations as well as provide succour to people in the affected communities.
Residents said they fled to Zuma, a neighbouring community when they got a hint of the mass movement of gunmen towards their community.
They hastily gathered some of their belongings into wooden boats to cross to the relatively safe Zuma community.
Many others reportedly arrived at Zuma on Wednesday morning.
Gunmen are active in Shiroro, Munya, Paikoro and Gurara and have invaded several communities in the areas with several residents reportedly killed or kidnapped.
Meanwhile, Mr Bello decried the unprovoked attacks on innocent citizens of these communities.
The governor stated that no matter how hard the criminals sustain their activities, the government will remain steadfast and will not be discouraged in its efforts to end criminality in the state.
The government did not give the number of those who died in the boat mishap.
But locals divers have reportedly rescued at least 16 bodies while others are still missing.
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