Bandits have killed 13 military personnel following days of intense aerial and ground duel between the two sides around the troubled Dansadau District of Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State.
Yusuf Anka, @ankaboy, a Zamfara based journalist tweeted on Monday that the soldiers were ambushed in Malele axis of Dansadau by the bandits as they moved to repel attacks.
He, however, put the number of soldiers killed at 12.
“Twelve Nigerian soldiers and dozens of civilians have been killed In Malele axis of Dansadau in Zamfara. The soldiers were ambushed as they moved to repel a bandit attack on Malele community,” he said.
“Political elites have abandoned their duties at this crucial time and are only concerned with their election campaigns. We pray that these valiant soldiers’ and the unarmed citizens find peace in their final resting places.”
However, Daily Trust in a report, quoted eyewitnesses to have said that dozens of civilians were also confirmed dead following airstrikes and fire exchange around the affected communities as troops, aided by vigilantes, battled hundreds of gunmen who stormed the area.
A source told the medium that so far 69 people were buried in Mutunji community, 27 in Malele and 6 in Dansadau town.
Several other persons were also rushed to hospitals with different degrees of injuries.
Last Thursday, the armed criminals had attacked Maigoge, a village situated 8km west of Dansadau town. Fifteen of them were killed in a clash with the vigilantes in the community. The community drew the ire of the armed criminals after the gunfight.
A resident identified as Mustapha told Daily Trust that the armed bandits reinforced and returned to the community to carry out a reprisal attack two days later.
“More than five camps led by Damina, Ali Kachalla, Buzu and even Ado Aliero were mobilised. They came in a very large number and were planning to attack Maigoge, Malele and Ruwan Tofa communities. The villages are a few kilometres apart.
“The residents got wind of the attack and informed the military immediately. Two fighter jets arrived shortly afterwards. One of the jets hovered around Dansadau town for some minutes and then flew towards Maigoge community.
“Then, we saw several military vehicles move there. The jets fired several rockets on the armed men. Unfortunately, the armed criminals scrambled into Mutunji community to blend with residents when they sighted the fighter jets’’
“Huge collateral damage was recorded in the attack because dozens of residents were trapped and killed by NAF bombs. As I’m talking to you at least 63 people were buried and six of them were buried in Dansadau this morning,” Mustapha said.
“On the part of armed men, in Mutunji alone, more than 180 bodies were counted. But the residents are still counting losses’’
“Thirteen soldiers were killed and several others injured in the fight. Three military vehicles were also burnt. The injured soldiers have been evacuated to a medical facility,” he added.
A resident, Bilyaminu Dansadau said 73 people are currently responding to treatments in different medical facilities in Gusau, the state capital, Dansadau town and the assaulted community, Mutunji. The victims are largely recuperating from gunshot wounds.
“Several houses were destroyed in Mutunji as burned out motorbikes and vehicles have become a common sight.
“On their part, the armed criminals have recorded massive losses. Decapitated and charred parts of their bodies have dotted the outskirts of the troubled communities,” Bilyaminu said.
The spokesman for the Operation Hadarin Daji in the state, Captain Ibrahim Yahaya said he was not aware of the incident. “I’m not aware of it, I’m right now in Lagos attending a course”
In the same vein, the spokesman for the state police command did not return calls by our reporter at the time filing this report.
It was gathered that the military had warned the surviving residents in the villages to remain indoors. More troops are being deployed. Heavily armed soldiers in armoured vehicles have rolled into the Dansadau community.
Up to the time of filing this report there is no reaction from the state government and other security agencies.
The NAF Spokesman, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, confirmed the development last night when contacted but he declined further comment on collateral damage.