Gunmen loyal to a notorious bandit kingpin, Damina, reportedly attacked Kango and Dangulbi villages in Zamfara’s Maru Local Government Area on Sunday morning, killing 18 people.
According to residents, several people who fled the attack have yet to return.
In the state, Maru Local Government is a hotbed for banditry.
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Following the attack, the 18 victims were buried according to Islamic rites, according to a village leader who declined to be identified.
Shehu Ismaila, a Maru town resident, said 13 people were killed in Dangulbi and five in Kango. Mr Ismaila is originally from Dangulbi.
According to Mr. Ismaila, the bandits first attacked Kango before moving on to Dangulbi, where they killed some of the residents who were working on their farms.
“Six people were killed outside the community, while seven others were killed inside the main village.” Those killed were “early risers who were possibly attempting to do some farm work before returning home to continue the Sallah celebrations,” he said.
He went on to say that all five people killed in Kango were shot.
According to him, their burial was postponed until the evening because “all the residents fled.”
Yusuf Abdullahi, a Dansadau resident, said his sister-in-law almost got caught up in the attack when she went to Dangulbi community to spend the Sallah holiday with her aunt.
“She called to say she was fine,” he said, “but one of their neighbours was killed and several people in the house she went to are still missing.”
Many of those missing are believed to be hiding in the bush and may return.
Mr Ismaila claimed that the bandits’ leader, Damina, demanded N2 million last week.
as a “protection levy” from the Dangulbi community He claimed that community members were unable to raise the funds.
The village leader, however, stated that a truce had been reached with Damina and that they did not expect him to attack the village.
“We sat with him (Damina) in front of the Local Government Chairman, and they promised to stop firing.”
Despite the community leaders’ pleas and promises, he said, the bandits continued their attacks.
“I’m not aware of any two million dollar cease-fire demand.” But I was present at that truce meeting, and we demanded that they allow our people to use the Dangulbi-Magami-Gusau road, which is only 100 kilometres long, but he refused. “I’m sure if such demands had been made, I would have been informed,” he said.
Mohammed Shehu, the state police spokesman, did not respond to calls and SMS seeking comment on the attack.
Marauding bandits have been terrorising communities in Nigeria’s northwestern states and a portion of its north-central region.
Hundreds of people, including security officers, have been killed this year alone, while thousands more have been displaced.