No fewer than 53 people have been killed in an attack by bandits on villagers in Zamfara State, triggering the cancellation Democracy Day celebration in the state.
Scores of motorcycle-riding gunmen called bandits earlier on Thursday through Friday, invaded the villages of Kadawa, Kwata, Maduba, Ganda Samu, Saulawa and Askawa in the Zurmi district, shooting residents.
The gang reportedly attacked farmers in their fields and pursued others who fled to escape the assaults.
Zamfara police spokesman Mohammed Shehu said 14 bodies had been taken to the state capital Gusau on Friday, and added that “policemen deployed in the area following the attacks.”
Local residents said 39 more bodies had been recovered and buried in the neighbouring town of Dauran.
“We recovered 28 bodies yesterday and 11 more this morning from the villages and buried them here,” said Dauran resident Haruna Abdulkarim.
“It was dangerous to conduct the funeral there because the bandits are harbouring in the Zurmi forest and could return to attack the funeral,” said another resident, Musa Arzika who reported the same death toll.
Villages in the Zurmi district have been repeatedly raided by bandits, and local residents blocked a major highway last week, calling on the authorities to end the attacks.
In reaction to this, Governor Bello Matawalle suspended the Emir of Zurmi, Atiku Abubakar Muhammad.
The governor also cancelled all activities line up for the Democracy Day celebration and condemned the attack.
“People should remain calm and gentle, as well as go about their normal businesses. Security agents have been mobilised to the affected communities and directed to deal ruthlessly with anyone found disrupting the peace being enjoyed by our people.
“The government deemed it necessary to suspend all the activities lined up for the democracy day for now, until further notice,” the statement read in part.
The governor asked residents to use Democracy Day to reflect and continue to pray for the intervention of God Almighty, to restore lasting peace in our state, region, and the country in general.