Armed bandits on Wednesday killed 40 commuters and set their vehicle ablaze at Birani village, Zurmi Local Government Area of Zamfara State.
DAILY NIGERIAN gathered that the bandits opened fire on the commuters, who were mostly traders from villages of Mayasa, Tundar Fulani, Birani and Mashema.
“The bandits ambushed the traders when they were travelling in Canter truck to their villages after closing hours of the weekly trading activities at a local market.
“They robbed them of their goods and takings, and then set the vehicle and the people ablaze,” said a witness, Sani Iro.
However, when contacted, the spokesperson of the state police command, Muhammad Shehu, said hunters from Birani village of Zurmi LGA incepted and accosted a herder in the bush with some suspected stolen cattle and sheep.
“The herder abandoned the animals and escaped into the bush. Unknown to the hunters, the cattle rustler went to Isah LGA and mobilised bandits to attack the hunters.
“On hearing that the bandits were preparing to attack their community, hunters and local vigilantes pre-emptively mobilized and attacked the armed bandits, in that, the clash ensued,” Mr Shehu said.
He added that instead of the residents to give the security operatives timely information to avert the attack they decided to take law in to their hands by going out to confront the gunmen.
“You know Birane is a very remote community. Yet, I can’t tell you the actual figures of the casualties till after the Deputy Commissioner operations of the command comes back. He, alongside other officers are there to assess the situation and provide additional security measures,” he added.
Meanwhile, it has been estimated that in the last seven years, militia groups may have killed over 2,000 people and destroyed property worth billions of naira in some towns and villages across nine out of the 14 local governments of the state.
Killings by unknown gunmen seem to be taking a toll for the worst, a development that prompted the Senator representing Zamfara Central in the National Assembly, Kabiru Garba Marafa, to raise an alarm.
In his assertion at the floor of the senate, Mr Marafa claimed that some militia have taken over some parts of the state, handling cases and usurping functions of judicial officers and the police.
However, Mr Marafa said the state governor and his deputy, Abdul’aziz Yari and Ibrahim Wakkala, respectively, as well as the Commissioner of Police, Kenneth Ebrimson, were aware of these, but have failed to bring them to justice.