Gunmen Kill 14 People in Niger Community

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•DHQ deploys special forces in Southern Kaduna

Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja and Laleye Dipo in Minna

The Niger State Police Command yesterday confirmed the killing of 14 persons by gunmen at Ukuru Village in Mariga Local Government Area of the state.

Also, following the unabated killings by suspected terrorists in Southern Kaduna, the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has deployed more troops, including Special Forces in the communities.

Niger State Police Command’s Public Relations Officer, Mr. Wasiu Abiodun, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), in a statement issued yesterday in Minna, the state capital said the attack occurred on Wednesday during which the gunmen also rustled cattle.

He added that in addition to the 14 people confirmed dead, five others sustained various degrees of injury.

He said the injured were receiving treatment at Mariga General Hospital.
The police spokesman added that policemen and local vigilante were on the trail of the gunmen.

It was gathered that the gunmen, riding on motorcycles, began shooting sporadically when they stormed the village.

According to an eyewitness, the attack could have been a reprisal because a few days before the incident, men of the local vigilante had repelled an attack by the bandits during which they reportedly killed four of the attackers.

“They waited for most of the strong men to go to the farm before launching the attack,” the eyewitness told THISDAY.

He also confirmed that the bandits escaped with some animals.

Meanwhile, following the unabated killings by suspected terrorists in Southern Kaduna, the DHQ has deployed more troops in the communities.

DHQ said personnel of the Special Forces embedded with Operation Safe Haven were patrolling the various flashpoints in the communities, noting that the move is expected to curtail the bloodshed in the area.

Speaking in Abuja yesterday on measures to address the violence and criminality in Southern Kaduna settlements and other parts of the country during the weekly press conference at the DHQ, the Coordinator of Defence Media Operations, Maj. Gen. John Enenche, expressed optimism that the atrocities in the North-West would soon be curbed.

He said the military was mapping out strategies aimed at countering the movement of terrorist organisations, al-Qaeda and ISIS to Nigeria.

This, according to him, followed an intelligence alert issued last week by the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) that the terrorist groups have begun moves to re-establish themselves in West Africa while exploiting, local grievances and strife.

“In a bid to curb the recent attacks and isolated killings in Southern Kaduna, troops of Operation Safe Haven have continued to intensify efforts aimed at securing the lives and property in the general area.

“Particularly, Special Operations Forces have been deployed in the joint operations area covering the various flashpoints. This move is expected to achieve the desired result with the provision of credible and actionable intelligence specifically from primary sources,” he stated.

On the situation in the North-west zone, Enenche said the aggressive operations by troops of Operation Hadarin Daji had led to a reduction in banditry in Katsina, Kebbi, Zamfara, Sokoto and adjoining states.

He added: “Most of these criminal elements have been decimated.

Gradually, there is the restoration of human activities in the zone.

Farmers have returned to their farms while other economic activities have picked up across the zone.

“The troops have continued to dominate the general area with clearance patrols, aggressive fighting, and confidence-building patrols.

“The high military command congratulates the troops for the feat recorded and encourages the good people of the zone to continue to provide credible information to the troops.”

Responding to the allegations that troops on counter-insurgency in the North-east were engaged in illegal fishing and other commercial activities in Baga, the coordinator described the accusation as baseless, noting that “in line with military procedures, it was investigated and found to be baseless.”

Eneche added that sequel to the warning by United States Africa Command that extremists had begun deploying strategies to silently re-establish themselves, the armed forces and other security agencies were leaving nothing to chance.