Minna — About fifteen persons, including a Chief Imam and village head of Yelwa town, Alfa Sani, lost their lives when hostilities broke out on Sunday between Fulani cattle herdsmen and local farmers in two communities in Lapai local government council of Niger State.
An eye witness told our correspondent in Niger State that 12 out of the 15 people that lost their lives were from Yelwa village while the remaining three were from Bina community.
Our correspondent gathered that about three people were receiving treatment at the Lapai General Hospital for injuries they sustained in the clash while 10 cars and 20 houses were destroyed.
The clash, suspected to be a reprisal attack by the Fulani herdsmen over alleged killing of their kinsmen and cows at Cheku village about a month ago, led to some of the people taking refuge in neighbouring communities, the source further explained.
Two buses loaded with Fulanis, armed with sophisticated weapons were in the early hours of Sunday reportedly driven to Bina and Yelwa villages where they disembarked and allegedly laid ambush for the villagers who were saying the early morning prayers in the mosques not knowing that the fate awaiting thvem.
The source added that when the villagers emerged from the mosques, the Fulanis came out of hiding shouting "We shall retaliate the killing of our kinsmen" and immediately started shooting sporadically, sending panic among the people who scampered for safety.
In the confusion that followed, it was gathered that not less than eight of the villagers were allegedly felled by bullets from the Fulani's guns while the rest were either cut down with machetes or clubbed to death.
The villagers who were caught unawares, it was learnt, ran in different directions for safety which gave the Fulanis the opportunity to burn their houses, destroy cars and other household items.
It was gathered that the remains of the Chief Imam of Yelwa was interred after a Fidau prayers held at the palace of the Emir of Lapai, Umar Bago.
The source also hinted that, Bina and Yelwa communities had recovered from the shock and had now began a hunt for the Fulanis leading to the arrest of three of them as they were trying to cross River Gurara for safety.
Niger State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Richard Oguche, confirmed the communal unrest to our correspondent in Minna on Monday.
Oguche, who however did not give details of how many arrests that have been made so far, said only four people had been confirmed dead.
As part of efforts to maintain peace and restore normalcy in the troubled area, Oguche said three lorry loads of mobile policemen had been deployed to the area on Sunday evening, adding that, normalcy is gradually returning to the communities.