Nigeria: Villagers Flee As Bandits Retaliate Military Onslaught

Sokoto — About 5000 people from some villages across Isa Local Government Area of Sokoto State are said to have fled their homes as bandits allegedly ransacked their communities in retaliation over the ongoing military onslaught in the area.

Daily Trust reported that fighter jets have been bombarding suspected hideouts of the bandits in Kagara forest around Isa and Sabon Birni local government areas.

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Some of the bandits were said to have fled to nearby villages during the onslaught and later regrouped and attacked the other villages.

Daily Trust learnt that the bandits killed six people, carted away yet to be ascertained number of livestock, and looted shops, but there was no report of an abduction.

One of the fleeing villagers told Daily Trust that the communities affected were Bafarawa, Arune, Suruddudu, Sabon Gari Lugu, Tsillawa, Gwalama and Dan Adama villages, all in Isa Local Government Area.

According to the villager, who pleaded not to be named, two persons were killed in Tsillawa and Suruddudu villages and three in Gebe village.

He added that all the villages were now deserted as the inhabitants, estimated at about 5000, have fled to either Isa or Shinkafi town in Zamfara State, while others were staying with their relatives in other places.

Another source revealed to our reporter that, "The air raid would have been more damaging on the bandits had there been ground troops to mop them up while fleeing the forest.

"When they were threatening to come back and retaliate, we thought it was just a mere empty threat, until around midnight on Tuesday when they came in their hundreds on motorcycles and starting ransacking our villages," he said.

"They killed about six people, carted away livestock and looted shops," he added.

Another source told our reporter that the bandits also blocked and killed many motorists and passengers along Isa road on Tuesday night.

The Information Officer of Isa Local Government Area, Surajo Isa, who confirmed the development, said some of the fleeing villagers were taking refuge in Sardauna and Maitandu primary schools in Isa town, while the sole administrator of the area had provided them with food.

The Commissioner for Careers and Security Matters, Colonel Garba Moyi (rtd), who is from the area, could not be reached for comments as he did not respond to calls.

Similarly, the spokesman of the Sokoto State Police Command, ASP Muhammad Sadiq, and the acting Public Relations Officer of 8 Division of the Nigerian Army, Lieutenant Hammaga could not be reached for comment as at the time of filing this report.

However, the acting spokesman of 199 Composite Group of the Nigerian Airforce, Flight Lieutenant Tambari, promised to call back after getting clearance to speak to the press but he was yet to do so at press time.

The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar, who was in Sokoto to flag-off the second phase of Air Interdiction operation in the state last Monday, assured that the operation would be sustained until the state, and the entire Northwest region are rid of banditry.

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