Residents of Anka and Bukkuyum local government areas in Zamfara State say they have found over 50 dead bodies after the attacks earlier this week on some rural communities in the state.
The residents also said search parties were still out combing the bushes for more bodies and injured victims.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how bandits burnt down five Zamfara communities between Tuesday and Wednesday.
Hamza Adamu, a local politician, told this newspaper that the chairperson of Anka local government vigilante groups, Gambo Abare, was one of those killed.
“Unfortunately, for us, this gallant person also paid the supreme price. He was from Abare villàge but he led a team of vigilante members to confront the bandits when they stormed some of the communities from Kurfar Danya.”
When asked the number of those killed, he said “they are too many. I quickly know of his (vigilante leader) death because he is popular.”
A survivor of the attacks, who is still searching for members of this family, Murtala Waramu, told VOA Hausa that 58 corpses had been discovered.
“I am from Waramu and so far we have counted 58 dead bodies in the villages we have visited to reclaim corpses. The search would continue in the morning (Friday).”
He said there are several villages to cover but added that in most of the communities they had visited, houses and shops were burnt down by the bandits.
According to him , 22 dead bodies were found between Kurfar Danya and one other village, eight in Tungar Geza, six in Tungar Dan Gayya, five in Tungar Toro, four in Abare including the corpse of the vigilante members leader, three in Walo, two in Tungar Isa and one in Keya.
Mr Waramu said most of those killed were adult men.
Notorius banditry kingpin relocates
Mr Waramu said the bandits behind the attacks were suspected to be working for the notorious banditry kingpin, Bello Turji.
Another anonymous source who spoke to VOA Hausa Thursday morning said they were informed that Mr Turji was planning to relocate to the dense forest.
“We heard that over 500 tents have been erected for them by some of their conspirators in the forest. We are not sure when he will be passing, but we believe those who launched the attacks were some of his boys who were relocating to the forest,” he said.
A senior lecturer in the department of History at Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto, Murtala Ahmed – Rufai, said the relocation could be true.
“Fulanis are nomadic in nature. I have not got the real picture of the relocation rumour yet but it could be true owing to so many factors. The nature of the forest he is said to be relocating to is deadlier than the one in Fakai. He may relocate for his safety for now and that is why I said the Northwest governors need a holistic approach to the issue. If they’re going to embrace dialogue, they should do it collectively. Because look at Dogo Gide, when he had a peace accord with Zamfara State, he moved a bit deep into the forest and started terrorising Niger and Kaduna states,” he said.
A Daily Trust report said Mr Turji is suspected to have relocated from Fakai forest in Shinkafi to Gando forest in Bukkuyum.
The report said the relocation could be due to intense air strikes.
The police spokesperon in Zamfara State, Mohammed Shehu, could not be reached on phone for his comment and he did not respond to an SMS sent to him.
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