From Olanrewaju Lawal, Birnin Kebbi
Suspected bandits again, attacked the convoy of the Kebbi State Deputy Governor, Col. Samaila Yombe Dabai (retd).
The incident, it was gathered, occurred on Tuesday night, at Kanya village in Zuru Emirate, around 8pm. Chief Press Secretary to the Deputy Governor, Mallam Abdullahi Yelmo, who confirmed the attack in a chat with newsmen, said a police ASP, identified as Idris Umar Libata, was killed during the attack after they engaged the bandits in a gun duel.
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Yalmo explained that his principal was in the company of the commanding officer, Zuru Army Barracks, to console the families of the people of the community who lost their sons during the recent bandits’ attack which claimed the lives of, at least, 65 local vigilantes and scores of civilians in the state, when the bandits attacked the deputy governor’s convoy.
Also, gunmen killed 19 security personnel, including 13 soldiers, in a fresh assault in the State, a security source and residents said yesterday.
Agence France-Presse (AFP) said the battle erupted late Tuesday, in Kanya, a village in Danko-Wasagu district, just a day after dozens of members of a self-defence militia were killed in the same area.
At least, 57 vigilantes were killed in nearby Sakaba, on Monday, in an ambush by heavily armed criminal gangs known locally as bandits.
The Kebbi State Government confirmed the report when the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, visited Birnin Kebbi, the state capital, yesterday. Though the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Umar Babale Yauri, who briefed the minister, did not give the number of the soldiers killed, he said killing of the soldiers happened a day after about 63 members of the vigilante group, known as Yan-Sa-Kai, were massacred in Zuru.
He said: “In the last three days, we lost about 65 vigilantes members. And even yesterday, we lost some military officers engaging with them.”
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Hundreds of gunmen invaded Kanya, engaging a combined military and police detachment in a three-hour gun fight, the source and residents said.
“The death toll stands at 19. They include 13 soldiers, five policemen and one vigilante,” a security personnel, who did not want to be identified, told AFP.
He said eight other security personnel, including four soldiers, were hospitalised with wounds.
“It was an intense fight that lasted more than three hours. The terrorists had the upper hand because of their sheer number.”
Military and police did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the incident, AFP said. Local resident, Musa Arzika, who gave the same toll, said the attackers came on “around 200 motorcycles, riding three on each” and laid siege to the village.
“The bodies of 13 soldiers, five policemen and one vigilante killed in the fight were taken to Zuru this morning. We believe they were the same bandits who killed the vigilantes that attacked our village,” he said.
The Northwest and central have been terrorised for years by criminal gangs who raid villages, killing and abducting residents for ransom after looting and burning homes.