Last Thursday and Friday, terrorists ambushed local guards known as Yan Sakai vigilantes in the Bakori Local Government Area of Katsina State. During a gun battle between the terrorists and the guards, no fewer than 100 people were reportedly killed, OLAIDE OYELUDE writes
An adage, “Who knows it feels it” perfectly describes the situation that some Katsina State residents have found themselves in as a result of terrorists who appear to have resumed attacks on some of the state’s communities.
The most recent of such attacks was last Thursday’s bloody encounter between the terrorists and local guards, which according to reports, led to the killing of no fewer than 100 people.
Local guards attempted to recover some rustled animals in the Bakori Local Government Area, resulting in a bloody confrontation with terrorists who had set up an ambush for them.
Some residents, who commented on the incident, appealed to the government to deploy more security operatives in the communities in the state, especially in the frontline local government areas.
The residents also shared their experiences as they insisted that the terrorists had forced some people to relocate from their ancestral communities.
A 32-year-old man, Hamisu Hassan, is a one of the local vigilantes that confronted the terrorists at Goje village. He sustained gunshot injuries in the upper part of his right hand. He relayed his experience and appealed to the government to reinforce security in frontline local government areas in the state.
Front-line local government areas are those that share boundaries with Zamfara and Kaduna States and are frequently attacked by bandits.
Hassan revealed, “The terrorists came on Wednesday night and rustled some cows in Bakori. We in our group traced them that very night, and we exchanged shots. On Thursday morning, our other members from other villages joined us, and it was unknown to us that the terrorists were lying down at various points where we were passing through. They encircled us, and they began to shoot with AK-47 rifles. After I was injured on the upper part of my right hand and there was too much blood gushing from other minor wounds, they left me for dead. That was how I escaped being killed. I will appeal to the government to put more security in our local government areas of Bakori and Kankara.
“In fact, I will suggest that the government send both troops and other security agencies to all the frontline local government areas. The bandits don’t stay here. They will come either from Zamfara or Kaduna, operate, and then return to their base. They have various camps inside the forests that lie between Katsina and Zamfara and between Katsina and Kaduna.”
Also, a residents who hails from Guga village, Abubakar Hashimu, told Channels Television that on Friday, 63 people were buried, adding that on Saturday, a canter vehicle was also brought loaded with over 30 corpses, we are still anticipating more bodies”.
According to Hashimu, more than 100 people died.
A resident of Matazu Local Government Area, Salisu Lawan, 40, also appealed for more security agencies in the council. He claimed that terrorists came to the council’s inadequate security agencies to carry out their attacks. He added that many people had relocated from the council to Katsina and Zaria because of the terrorists’ activities.
Lawan added, “I reside in Matazu, and I am a civil servant. I know that the government is trying its best in terms of security, but the terrorists know that we don’t have a high number of security operatives here in Matazu. That is why they have the boldness to attack us. They also get a lot of information from informants. I will suggest that the government employ more security operatives and deploy them to the council headquarters for our safety. Because of terrorist activities, many prominent Matazu residents have relocated to Katsina or Zaria. So, please help us and tell the government to assist us. Many people may even not come here to cast their votes during the election if the government does not reinforce security here.”
Abubakar Uli, 33, resides in Batsari and is a trader. Uli said he relocated to Batsari, which is the headquarters of the Batsari Local Government Area, away from his village, which lies between Katsina and Zamfara states. He also appealed to the government to increase security activities at the council.
Uli said, “I was farming before. I stopped farming after I escaped from the terrorists who invaded our village, and I now relocated to Batsari. I will not disclose the name of my village because of the safety of my people who are still staying there. I escaped from the terrorists who invaded our village almost a year ago, shortly after the former Chief of Army Staff (General Buratai) visited troops at Batsari. I spent nine days in the forest with the terrorists before I escaped, and since then I have not returned to the village. I have also been selling farm tools in Batsari. I will also appeal for more police presence in Batsari. I will also appeal to the government to buy more patrol vehicles and more weapons for the security operatives. The terrorists operate with confidence, especially at night, and they have correct information on their targets or any place they want to invade.”
The spokesperson for the Katsina state police command, SP Gambo Isah, gave details of circumstances surrounding the incident, thus: “On Wednesday, February 1, 2023, at about 11pm, terrorists in their numbers, shooting sporadically with AK-47 rifles, attacked the house of one Alhaji Muntari, at Unguwar Audu Gare, Kandarawa, Bakori Local Government Area, and rustled fifty cows and thirty sheep.
“Subsequently, on Thursday, February 2, 2023, at about 10am Yansakai outlawed a group of eleven villages from the Bakori Local Government Area, who regrouped and went after the terrorists with a view to recovering the rustled domestic animals. They traced the footpaths of the hoodlums to a location in Yargoje Forest.
“Unfortunately, the terrorists planned and launched a coordinated ambush on the Yansakai. The hoodlums shot and killed forty-one Yansakai (local vigilante members) and wounded two. The area commander, Malumfashi, led a team of policemen to the scene and recovered the corpses and injured, transporting them to Kankara General Hospital.
“A joint security operation is currently ongoing with a view to bringing the perpetrators to justice. Investigation is ongoing, please.”
Further investigation showed that the affected communities in the attack were the Guga, Kakumi, Kandarawa, and Jargaba wards of Bakori.
Some residents also gave their own accounts of the incident as follows: “We’ve counted 102 of our people that have been killed, but in the three wards of Guga, Kakumi, and Kandarawa, we have buried 72 people. We couldn’t retrieve the other dead bodies because most of them have decomposed while those who followed the terrorists deep into the bush were killed, and we couldn’t go since the bandits are still on the prowl there.”
Apparently concerned about the recent killings, Governor Aminu Masari dispatched a powerful delegation to the affected communities to condole with them and assure them of the government’s efforts to safeguard the lives and property of residents of the state.
The delegation was led by the secretary to the state government, Alhaji Muntari Lawal.
The Secretary to the State Government declared, “The actual number of those killed cannot be ascertained because they are still counting the deaths; nobody can tell you the accurate figure because some of the bodies are scattered in the bush, they have to go and retrieve them.
“As we are counting the people, so also are the bandits. So people should learn to be courageous enough to confront the devil before they finish them. Don’t wait for the government, before the government intervenes, the damage has been done, so organise yourselves to confront them.”
A member representing Bakori/Danja Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Amiru Tukur, also disclosed that 500 terrorists invaded five communities in the area, alleging that terrorists’ informants and collaborators were residing among people in the communities.
“As of now, over 80 corpses of the bandits have been recovered, alongside 21 to 22 of the Yansakai members,” Tukur further disclosed.
Meanwhile, the state government is to set up a commission of inquiry on the terrorists’ recent killings.
Malam Ahmad Katsina, Governor Masari’s Special Adviser on Security Matters, made the announcement to reporters.