Armed attackers on Sunday and Wednesday invaded Sabon Birnin Local Government Area of Sokoto State and killed over 50 people as they celebrated Eid al-Fitr, residents said.
Residents said the attackers returned to the same communities on Wednesday hours after Governor Aminu Tambuwal visited the area following the initial attack.
The first attack on Sunday occurred hours after the police in Sokoto issued a statement assuring residents of adequate security as they celebrated Eid.
“The Commissioner of Police wishes to assure members of the public of the preparedness of the Force to provide adequate security for lives and property before, during and after the celebration,” the police spokesperson, Muhammad Sadiq, said.
Some residents told PREMIUM TIMES that the “bandits” numbering over a hundred stormed their communities on motorcycles shot indiscriminately and killed unchallenged. They said at least 50 bodies were buried in the two attacks.
Affected communities include Kuzari, Katumi, Masawa, and Dan-Aduwa. The peasant communities are located a few kilometers away from Sabon Birnin council headquarters.
President Muhammadu Buhari reacted to the incidents Thursday, saying the attacks were “unfortunate”.
“As the world and Nigeria battle Coronavirus pandemic, it is tragic and unfortunate that bandits have remained active in parts of the country, killing innocent people and throwing families into despair,” presidential spokesperson Garba Shehu quoted him as saying in a statement.
“We will not abandon you to your fate because we are determined to bring these mass murderers to their knees and crush them totally.’’
According to the statement, Mr Buhari “notes that a major military operation code-named “Operation Accord” was launched by the military, targeting the bandits that had been tormenting North-West and North Central states.”
“This operation will be a full time and sustained military offensive that is intended to deny the bandits any breathing space to reorganize and regroup.’’
President Buhari reassures Nigerians that the government is determined to protect them against “remorseless psychopathic mass killers who have no regard for the sanctity of life.’’
Gov Tambuwal said the development was “most discomforting” considering the fact that he and security officials visited the area on Tuesday.
“I received with rude shock and maximum displeasure the killings of many citizens of Sabon Birnin by bandits,” Mr Tambuwal said.
“We are working concertedly to tackle this problem, I commiserate and console, once again, the resilient and peace-loving people of Sabon Birni and environs.”
Later on Thursday, the police said the commissioner, Mr Sadiq, was with the governor on a visit to the affected areas and “search and rescue operations are ongoing and final reports on casualties are being tallied.”