Gusau — Armed robbers attacked Kabaru village in Zamfara State Monday night, shooting dead 18 people including the traditional ruler, the latest in series of deadly raids in Maru local government area.
The attack came two weeks after a similar one on Dogon Dawa village in Kaduna State, where 24 people were shot dead by robbers trying to rescue captured colleagues.
Residents of Kabaru, which is in Dansadau emirate that has seen similar violence in the past, said dozens of gunmen stormed the village late Monday night firing from different directions.
The bandits were believed to have struck thinking that there was a lot of cash in the village following the sales of farm produce and livestock ahead of Eid el-Kabir celebrations.
When they laid siege, the robbers told people to remain indoors and keep their monies and other valuables within reach.
The village head, Alhaji Maiyara, pleaded with the robbers not to kill anyone but they shot him instead.
"He was killed as he begged them not to kill anyone. The robbers warned him to keep off but he insisted, so they shot him," a local said.
Witnesses said the robbers also pursued people who tried to escape and shot them dead.
"They killed people who tried to escape too," said Sani Abdullahi, one of the survivors.
Haruna Kabir, another survivor, told Daily Trust he heard gun shots from far away and he escaped into the bushes along with his wife and three children.
"We had already escaped before they arrived. We dashed into the bush and hid when we heard sounds of gunfire. We could hear the screaming of the people from where we hid," he said.
Many survivors of the attack fled their homes as the state police commissioner and acting governor Ibrahim Wakkala Muhammad visited the village to assess the damage.
The Police authorities yesterday confirmed the violence, saying investigations had started.
Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of zone 10 comprising Sokoto, Zamfara and Kebbi states, Alhaji Mohammed Jinjiri Abubakar, told Daily Trust the armed robbers attacked Kabaru around 11pm on Monday.
"They asked the villagers to bring out money and other valuables. Afterwards, they started killing the villagers," he told Daily Trust by telephone yesterday.
"My men told me that 18 persons were killed by the gang but I have asked them to go back and recount the number of the casualties. So give me one hour before going to press."
He said he mobilised more policemen to the area to track the gang.
Since last year, villages in Zamfara State had suffered deadly attacks blamed on armed robbers sometimes on revenge mission after killing or capture of their colleagues.
From August 2011 to June this year over 50 people were killed in several villages across Dansadau emirate.
In one such incident in October 2011, 19 people were killed in Lingyado village. In another raid, bandits went house-to-house at Dangulbi, killing 27 persons.
Soon after the Dangulbi attack, the state government invited famous armed robbers' hunter, Aliyu Mohammad Ahmed popularly known as Ali Kwara.
After 25 days of operation in the forest hunting for the armed robbers, Ali Kwara told newsmen that 12 serving policemen were the suppliers of guns to the armed bandits.
He said nine policemen were arrested in Zamfara State and three others were arrested in neighbouring Sokoto State over gunrunning. He said the policemen arrested in Zamfara State included seven inspectors, a sergeant and a constable.
However, weeks later state police commissioner Usman Akila Gwary told Daily Trust that only the chief armourer in the state was fingered as the supplier of guns to the bandits.
He said the case was being handled in Abuja by higher police authorities.
Months later nothing has been heard about it.