Niger: Gunmen raid 15 communities, set octogenarian ablaze, abduct reverend, 30 others

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From John Adams, Minna

Gunmen said to be numbering well over 300 and riding on motorcycles have raided about 15 communities across three local government areas of Niger State in the last 48 hours.

The gunmen who were sighted at Kusasu and Chukuba Communities in Shiroro local government area where they had assembled on Saturday afternoon, later moved to Kuchi community in Munya Local Government Area where they began their attack on the people of Chibani and abducted about 30 people including women and their children.

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According to a source close to the Chibani community, those abducted were rounded up in their various homes at about 8:00 pm on Saturday. A man identified as Umoru was shot by the gunmen when he tried to escape.

The gunmen continued their rampaging On Sunday morning when they divided themselves into five groups as they move from one community to another wrecking havoc.

The entire Sarkin Pawa highway was completely taken over by a group of gunmen who held sway on the road for several hours, looting shops and houses along the highway.

A yet to be identified catholic priest in Minna and three others were abducted by the gunmen along the Minna-Sarkin Pawa highway.

The Catholic priest was returning to Minna, the state capital on Sunday after evangelism around some communities in Sarkin Pawa when he ran into the gunmen numbering about 50.

He and three others in his vehicle were immediately matched into the bush and whisked away together with other abductees earlier captured from their homes.

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In Zagzaga community, an octogenarian was set ablaze in his room by the gunmen who met the community empty as the people escaped to the bush. Many houses were set ablaze including that of the octogenarian

Shops and houses were looted with reckless abandonment by the gunmen whose main target in Zagzaga community was solely food items, before proceeding to Sohon Kabula and Mangoro communities.

Although there was no report of any attack at Sohon Kabula and Mangoro, according to our source, they are being used as transit communities to lunch attacks on Beni, Ishau, Adunu and other communities in Paikoro Local Government Area.

At Beni for instance, the entire community has been deserted as the people have all escaped into the forest and neighbouring villages for safety but their properties were not saved as the gunmen looted their houses in search of food items and other essential things.

At the time of this report, 4:00 pm, another group were said to have invaded Aboloso, Kudamin and Dakolo, all in Kafin Koro District of Paikoro local government where they have rustled about 200 cattle from a Fulani Man and are in the process of moving them out of the community.

According to a member of the vigilante group in Sarkin Pawa, the gunmen entered the state from Kachia and Chukun Local Government Areas of Kaduna state all the way from Zamfara and Katsina states.

The latest onslaught by the gunmen is coming barely two weeks after the Joint Security TaskForce in the state killed over 100 of them in Nasko, Manama Local Government Area of the state.

The commissioner for local government and internal security Emmanuel Umar promised to issue a statement on the latest attack by the gunmen.

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