SaharaReporters has just received information from students living in Birnin Gwari town in Kaduna State to the effect that heavily armed bandits took over the Police Station in the area and burnt it down after about two hours of gun battle with troops.
The police station is completely razed in an attack that started at midnight, according to the source.
Banks and other public buildings were reportedly bombed along with the Police Station.
The source who claimed to have witnessed the attack said the bandits also planted Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) that exploded simultaneously in addition to sporadic gun shots.
The source also said that the whole area was sealed by the unidentified gunmen whose number could not be ascertained because of they came in the dark. Several police officers and some of the bandits are believed to have died in the attack which lasted about two hours.
“We are trapped, and under fear, we need military support to, if not there is no certainty on our lives. As I speak, they are still firing”, he said.
In October, 2012, bandits invaded the town killing some 20 worshippers leaving a Mosque in an early morning raid in the area.
Calls made to spokespersons of the army and police were not returned as at the time of this report.
Last year SaharaReporters Did a reasoned exposee on the problem of armed banditry in Birnin Gwari LGA: Seee report below:
Dogon Dawa Killings: Terrorists Believed To Be Bunkering In Kaduna Forests; Military Considering Armed Response
A SaharaReporters investigation in Dogon Dawa community, where over 20 people were killed in a mosque, and in other neighboring villages in Birnin Gwari local government area of Kaduna State, indicates that the suspected terrorists may be camping out under the cover of dense forests in Kaduna State.
Senior State Security Service personnel who had previously studied the area and made several for immediate action, confirmed to our reporters SaharaReporters the suspects are taking advantage of the forest, which borders Plateau, Niger, Kano, Zamfara and Katsina States, to hide.
A senior police officer also told our reporter that the immediate solution is military action, in which helicopters would be used to support ground troops. Barring this, he said "they will continue to carry out their attacks and what we witnessed last Sunday [may be] just a joke.”
A SaharaReporters team which drove through villages in Niger State to Birnin Gwari spoke with villagers before arriving at the national park in a serene area called Kamuku.
The suspected terrorists, according to the locals, are heavily armed and live mainly in the thick forest except when they are traveling outside of the terrain.
They added that the suspected terrorists have established tents and other mobile settlements inside the forest, pointing out that some of them are foreigners while others are simply mercenaries who specialize in carrying out killings and counter attacks in Kaduna State and other parts of the North.
The locals told our reporters that the criminal elements also double as armed robbers to obtain money for their running costs and upkeep.
One of the villagers, speaking through an interpreter, said, “There are strange men inside the forests, they are camping in there and at times you will see them carrying their luggage on motorbikes before melting into the forests. There is nothing we can do, but they have never attacked us, but they have been targeting villages that formed vigilantes against their operations in the area. They do not talk with anyone. And we heard that they usually block the road and rob motorists.”
A security official who spoke on condition of anonymity further explained, “The whole area is under threat, these people come here from hundreds of kilometres away, through the bush, from forests in Zamfara or Katsina. They get here well-armed and know the terrain. We need ground troops and air support to raid and survey the whole forests. It is an urgent exercise.”
There were differing views in Dogon Dawa community where over 20 people were butchered on Sunday. Muhammad, who is a relative of the late vigilante leader, Ahmadu Aliyu, said that the armed robbers came to kill their father because he was a thorn in their flesh.
"These people are organized terrorists or militia; we know armed robbers cannot carry out this act in this manner. They came around 4:30 am and left around 6:30 am.”
Another young boy who spoke in tears said, “They are thieves tormenting us and all the travelers in the Birnin Gwari routes. But it is obvious they engaged services of experienced killers and they wrote us that they will come, but the authorities did not care until they struck.”
SaharaReporters saw armed soldiers and anti-riot policemen fully stationed around the area, but none of them agreed to talk to our reporter.