Armed bandits invaded Birnin Gwari community in Kaduna and killed 45. This is the full story.
Residents say the armed bandits invaded Birnin Gwari from the neighboring Dansadau village of Zamfara State.
Dansadau lies a few kilometers away from Birnin Gwari.
Premium Times reports that several houses in Birnin Gwari were also burnt to the ground as the bullets rained.
“These bandits attacked the village in broad daylight and killed many people. They even killed the village Sarkin Fawa (Head of local vigilante) on his way back to the village”, a former Birnin Gwari Local Government chairman who did not want his name in the story, told Premium Times.
This unnamed former LG Chairman also said casualty figures were unknown at the time.
“Nobody can tell you the exact number of people killed because even on the way to the village, 15 bodies were scattered on the road,” he said.
Vanguard reports that as many as 45 persons were killed by the bandits.
One vigilante told Vanguard that “the 45 bodies were found scattered in the bush. The bandits pursued residents who mobilised to defend the village after overpowering them.
“The dead included children abandoned by their parents during the attack.
“The attackers were obviously armed bandits from neighbouring Zamfara State who have been terrorising Birnin Gwari area…"
Mukhtar Aliyu who is a spokesperson of the Kaduna State police confirmed the attack to Pulse but refused to dwell on casualty figures.
"Yes, it happened, but I don't know how many died at this time", Aliyu said.
However, Kaduna State Police commissioner, Austin Iwar, told Premium Times that as many as 45 persons actually died in the attack.
“Yes 45 people were confirmed dead and as we speak, the state command has already deployed 150 policemen to the area to provide security,” Iwar was quoted as saying.
“We will also deploy another 200 police officers by next week to help protect lives and property in Birnin Gwari. We are doing everything possible to secure the area,” he added.
A resident of Birnin Gwari who identified himself as Hussain told Premium Times that; “some bodies that were burnt were already buried by their loved ones at Doka and Mando villages, few kilometres from Birnin Gwari town”.
Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai announced on Sunday that the federal government has agreed to cooperate with Kaduna to rid the area of bandits and cattle rustlers.
El-Rufai said the Kaduna State government is “deeply committed to overcoming the unfortunate criminality and banditry being carried out against innocent citizens in Birnin Gwari local government.
“The engagements between the State and federal governments have yielded results. President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the establishment of a permanent battalion of the Nigerian Army in the Birnin Gwari general area.
“The new security arrangements also involve policing. The Inspector General of Police has already announced the creation of the Birnin Gwari Police Area Command and two new Divisional Police Headquarters.
“The State Emergency Management Agency, has also been directed to provide relief materials with immediate effect to the affected communities.”
The presidency corroborated El-Rufai’s statement when it said: “President Buhari has approved the creation of a new Area Command and two additional Divisional Police Headquarters in Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State, to curtail bandits and boost security in the Birnin Gwari—Zamfara area”.
Presidential aspirant and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar said; “It worries me that there is no longer respect for the sanctity of life in our dear country. I'm heartbroken to learn that scores of precious lives have been massacred in Birnin Gwari, Kaduna State”.
A former Director General in the presidency, Dr Joe Abah said; “These killings around the country must stop. These people being killed are Nigerian citizens, many of them innocent children. We don’t seem to focus on it because we think it is happening “over there.” If scores of people were being killed in Abuja or Lagos every week...”
The Birnin Gwari killings arrive on the heels of similar attacks in Adamawa and Zamfara that claimed some 25 lives last week.
The attacks were blamed on cattle rustlers, Boko Haram terrorists and nomadic herders.
Nigeria has been grappling with killings by suspected herders alleged to be of Fulani extraction, since the turn of the year.
The sectarian crisis between herdsmen and farmers has claimed hundreds of lives in north central States of Benue, Taraba, Zamfara, Kaduna and Plateau from January to May, 2018.
In January, the Benue State government buried 73 residents killed by Fulani herdsmen in mass graves.
Terrorist sect Boko Haram has also been blamed for a spate of killings in the Northeast region of the country.
Boko Haram seeks to establish a hardline Islamic state in Northeast Nigeria. The sect has killed at least 20,000 people and displaced millions from their homes since 2009.
Nigeria's government and military have long maintained that the Islamic State group affiliate is a spent force and on the verge of defeat.
But there has been no let-up in attacks in the northeast, particularly in Borno state which has been the epicentre of the violence.