No fewer than 187 persons were massacred in Unguwar Galadima village, Dansadau Emirate of Maru local government area of Zamfara state at the weekend following the invasion of the area by motorbike- riding gunmen numbering over 100.
Although the casualty figure has been officially put at 112, residents of the village told our correspondent that up to 187 people were killed by the attackers.
The gunmen, according to eyewitnesses, invaded the village and shot at everyone at sight leaving dead several people, comprising of marketers, community leaders and vigilante group members.
According to some victims who escaped the attack, the incidence occurred around 3.15pm on Saturday when members of vigilante groups from Sokoto, Kebbi, Kaduna and Katsina states converged on the village and were holding a meeting organised to tackle insecurity affecting their states.
It was gathered that the vigilantes’ meeting was convened by one of the groups’ leaders identified as Kurma from Zamfara, with an agenda to get them organised to jointly comb-up the deadly forest used as hideout by the bandits, to destroy and eliminate the dangerous camps of the brigands.
Unconfirmed reports had it that the leader of the dangerous group had three days earlier sent a message to the convener of the meeting, warning him to call off the gathering but the request was turned down by majority of the participants.
“Even during the meeting, there was a phone call from the bandits notifying the leadership of their deadly attack. In less than half an hour, we were surrounded by bandits, all in army uniform and they were riding bikes. Without any delay, they started shooting at every moving creature”, a source narrated.
“It was a market day and the village was full of traders from various towns and cities. That was why the attack became bloody like no other in the history of crime in the state”, the source stressed.
Findings revealed that majority of people were in the village on the market day and therefore, a large number of corpses were buried without the consent of their relatives who did not even have knowledge of their relations’ deaths.
Up till yesterday (Sunday) evening, rescuers were busy searching and conveying corpses from the forest for burial; an activity that sources said may last till tomorrow (Tuesday).
In his condolence message, the state governor, Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar, condemned the meeting organised by the vigilante groups, saying it was illegal as the state government had ordered that the meeting be cancelled following security reports which indicated the possibility of the attack.
Yari, who aborted his planned trip abroad, said the government would not fold its arm and continue to watch bandits killing innocent people across the state.
He said the state government had officially discovered that 79 people were killed while scores sustained various degrees of injury. He urged people in the state to always report questionable movements to security agencies for necessary action.
In a related development, suspected members of the Boko Haram sect at the weekend barricaded the Maiduguri-Biu road in Borno state, killing seven persons.
Our correspondent reported that the Maiduguri-Biu road had recorded several attacks in the last three years which claimed hundreds of lives.
According eyewitnesses, those killed comprised passengers and commercial drivers who ran into the roadblock mounted in the middle of the road by the insurgents.
It was gathered that the incident occurred on Saturday, after which the insurgents allegedly stormed Gwargube, a nearby village where they summoned the villagers and asked them “to cooperate or be killed”.
A member of the youth vigilante in the area who did not want his name mentioned said the attackers were well armed.
“They stopped the vehicles and killed seven of the occupants. Many others were injured and taken to hospital in Maiduguri. In Gwargube, they vowed to kill the villagers and burn their properties if they cooperate with security operatives. They did not kill anyone there,” the source said.