Some 24 people, including 17 Muslims who were returning from the early morning prayer, were reportedly killed yesterday by unknown gunmen in Dogon-Dawa village, Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
Among those killed were a man and his two children, while his wife's hand was chopped off by the rampaging bandits who were said to be on a revenge mission.
However, the police claimed that 12 people were killed when the villagers arrested some of the assailants.
The incident was said to have occurred at about 5am yesterday when the gunmen said to have been responsible for a series of robbery operations in the area in the past, visited their anger on the community for the alleged recent killing of some of their gang members.
A resident of the village who spoke on condition of anonymity said the community thought the criminals had left the area, only for them to resurface.
He said on their arrival at the village, they went to the house of the deceased who they suspected was responsible for identifying their gang members and killed him and two of his children while one of the wife's hand was chopped off.
According to him, 17 people who were coming from the early morning prayers were also killed by the gang.
He explained that "sometimes ago, there were series of robberies in the area, especially along the Kaduna-Birnin Gwari highway. Some women were even raped in the process.
"So, a committee was set up to help find those that were responsible and put an end to it. The committee did a good job, as they were able to identify some of those responsible for the robbery incidents and other criminal activities in the area.
"A former village head in Dogon Dawa was in charge of the committee that was responsible for sanitising the area and that was why, in the last three months, there was no robbery in the area as the people were able to identify the criminals and they were being eliminated silently one after the other.
"The criminals must have fled the village when they discovered that they no longer have a base there.
"But this morning (yesterday), the criminals came back and went to the house of the man they suspected to be responsible for identifying them, killed him and two of his children and cut off the hand of his wife.
"They also killed 17 other people in the village. Those people they killed were coming from the early morning prayers.
"I can confirm to you that it was not a robbery operation, but it was the criminals themselves that came for a reprisal because the people have been identifying them."
Sources claimed that the criminals had earlier sent messages that they were coming to attack the village.
The state Police Commissioner, Mr. Olufemi Adenaike, confirmed the casualty figure at a news conference in Kaduna, the state capital, late yesterday.
According to him, the gunmen, numbering about 10, had stormed the village at about 5:30am yesterday, adding that some of the victims were coming back from their morning prayers while the rest were attacked in their various houses.
Confirming the suspicion that the killings were a reprisal, he said some members of vigilance group from Dogon Dawa village had gone to Kuyello village where they arrested four persons suspected to be members of a notorious gang terrorising the area and brought them to Dogon Dawa village for questioning.
Meanwhile, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Admiral Ola Saad Ibrahim, yesterday debunked claims in the foreign media, which indicted the personnel of the Armed Forces in the attack.
A statement by the Director Defence Information (DDI), Colonel Mohammed Yerima, condemned the reportage of the incident by the foreign media.
"The Defence Headquarters wishes to state categorically in the interest of the larger society that no member of the Nigerian Armed Forces was involved in the said attack which occurred in the early hours of Sunday the 14th October 2012," he said.