About 200 armed men suspected to be bandits carried out an attack in some communities in Munya and Paikoro Local Government Areas of Niger State.
The men succeeded in killing two vigilantes, a middle-aged man and they also injured about 15 others in an operation which the villagers said was targeted only at foodstuff.
About 15 women were abducted and made to help the bandits carry the looted foodstuff packed in sacks from the communities.
They, however, promised to release the women after helping them to evacuate the foodstuff to a particular location.
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The communities invaded by the bandits include Beni, old and new Dalolo, Aboloso, Ishau and Amale, all in Paikoro Local Government, while Gwari Nyayi, Kabiri and Biri in Munya Local Government were also raided by the bandits.
According to the District Head of Beni, Alhaji Jafaru Umar Sarki who confirmed the invasion by the bandits, the operation started on Saturday evening when the armed men numbering about 200 and in over 50 motorcycles stormed the communities in three different groups.
The Saturday operation only lasted for one hour and the bandits went away with sacks load of foodstuff and other items looted from shops in the town.
He said on Sunday morning, the bandits returned and shared themselves into three groups, moving from one community to another targeting only foodstuff and provisions from shops in an operation that started around 9.00am and lasted for over three hours.
According to him, for the three hours which the Sunday operation lasted, a helicopter owned by one of the security agencies was busy hovering around the communities while the bandits were operating on the ground.
“We saw a helicopter moving around the communities for about six times when the bandits were operating but the helicopter did not attack the bandits.
“We did not know what the helicopter was doing in the air because bandits were operating freely on the ground.”
He pointed out that “Immediately the bandits finished the operation and left, we did not see the helicopter again, so we don’t know whether it was providing cover for the bandit or to attack the bandits”.
He disclosed that the communities became helpless when all calls made to relevant security agencies to come to their rescue failed, adding that “in fact, the Divisional Police Officer attached to the area told me that they had no fuel in the car”.
The District Head, a retired police officer, disclosed that only the local vigilantes were on ground to provide some help but their ammunitions got exhausted after over 30 minutes of gun exchange with the bandits.
They, however, lost two of their men, leaving the bandits with gunshot injuries.
A middle-aged man who operates a computer centre at Kafin Koro, identified as Francis Daniel, was shot and killed from a hundred metres distance when he attempted to escape into the bush on sighting the bandits.
The latest incident is coming barely one year and two weeks after the last invasion where the bandits on January 9, 2020, invaded Beni and other communities, kidnaping 32 villagers, including the son of the District Head of Beni.
The bandits also placed a ransom of N49million for the release of their victims, asking the District Head to pay N17million out of the amount for the release of his son.
The Police Public Relations Officer of the Niger State Police Command, ASP Abiodun Wasiu could not be reached for comments as at the time of filing this report.