Seven communities in Bakori Local Government Area of Katsina State have been thrown into anguish after bandits ambushed vigilantes and residents.
Residents confirmed that they had buried 71 bodies as of Sunday and were still counting their loss as some known faces were yet to be seen as of the time our reporter visited some of the communities yesterday.
The affected communities are; Jargaba, Gidan Gago, Gidan Alhaji Audu Gari, Gidan Shirai, Gidan Baushe, Unguwar Gogai and Dicika in Bakori LGA.
The victims had mobilised to retrieve their animals rustled by the bandits when they were waylaid.
The bloody clash that claimed yet to be ascertained number of people, however, took place at Gidan Gwanki and Gidan Damo communities of Kankara LGA of the state.
Both Kankara and Bakori are two of the local governments bedeviled by activities of the bandits who engage in cattle rustling and kidnapping for ransom, among other crimes.
One of the vigilante leaders from the groups, who participated in the clash but did not want his name published, said the casualty figure could be more as the attack affected different communities.
He, however, claimed that the number of casualties from the bandits’ side could be well over 100. A resident, who lost his brother simply identified as Abdullahi, said the agony they were going through was beyond description.
“I don’t have to tell you the kind of agony we are currently passing through. To lose a life is very sad and painful not to talk of tens or even close to 100 people. We have lost hope, we are left on our own, those who are responsible for protecting our lives and property have not done their work,” he said.
He added that his brother left behind wives and children that have become orphans, which he said would be another serious source of concern apart from the pain of his brother’s demise.
A woman who lost her son, Usman, also expressed her grief, saying that it was destined that her son would die on that day.
She said the late Usman, who was not more than 25 years of age, left behind his young wife and little children. Residents, however, expressed their determination and willingness to fight back and defend themselves whenever the bandits attempt to strike again.
They however lamented that their locally made weapons, with which they usually defend their communities had been confiscated by the police, to which they demanded assurance that they would be allowed to keep such local weapons to use in any eventuality.
A security source in Kankara that pleaded anonymity said, “Frankly, I was one of those who evacuated the corpses. What I have witnessed so far is that 41 bodies were initially evacuated and later I heard that about 28 more, but I was not part of the last operation.
“It was a clash between some Fulani settlements and members of vigilante groups who mobilised from villages in Bakori LGA. We could not ascertain what caused the problem because the investigation is still ongoing.
“But from what we have gathered is that some bandits went to those areas and rustled some animals and residents of the communities mobilised and followed the footpath that led them to the main road, not close to those Fulani hamlets. But because they were notorious in the area, the vigilante decided to search their cattle and possibly impound some of them so that they will talk to those that rustled their own to return them, believing that they know the bandits.
“This was how the clash started and by the time we got the information, about 18 people were killed. When we got there, both sides had retreated and we thought the fight was over, not knowing that they all went back to regroup, mobilise more fighters and return. Unfortunately, it was late in the evening and our Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) was faulty, so we could not go back.
“The following morning (on Friday), we got reinforcement from the military that came with APC, together we went to the scene and evacuated 20 corpses. The second time, the area commander of Funtua came with two APCs and we went and evacuated another 15 corpses and then six, making a total of 41 on Friday.
“Then on Saturday, the Chairman of Bakori Local Government came with the families of the victims. They hired a truck and by then our APC was repaired. They went round the scene and recovered more corpses, but since I was not part of that, I don’t know the exact figure, but some were saying 28 or thereabout,” the source said