From John Adams, Minna
As gunmen continue their onslaught on Niger communities for the fifth day running, no fewer than 16 people, including women and children, have lost their lives in a boat mishap in River Shiroro, while trying to escape attack by gunmen on their community.
The incident occurred yesterday morning when the gunmen, said to be numbering over 200, invaded Shayita community in Munya Local Government Area and, in their usual manner, ransacked the entire community, looting food stuffs and other valuables.
The people, according to a source close to the community, had earlier got the wind of the attack by the gunmen, and began to evacuate their belongings to safe locations.
Our source said no fewer than 10 boats, all wooden, took off from Shayita in Munya local government area, heading to Zumba in Shiroro local government area when one of the boats capsized midway into the journey, leaving 16 people fear dead.
The boat was said to be carrying about 60 people, mostly women and children, with their belongings trying to cross over to neighbouring Zumba community when the unfortunate incident occurred.
While some of the victims were rescued, many were still missing, fuelling the possibility that the death toll could be more than the 16 whose bodies have been recovered by local divers in the community.
However, it was gathered that the rescue operation has been temporarily suspended by the locals as the gunmen closed up on the people, forcing them to not only suspended the rescue operation, but also abandoned the 16 bodies earlier recovered at the river bank and fled to safety.
As at the time of filing this reports, about nine boats had arrived at the Zumba river bank where the popular Saturday market is located.
There was no statement from either the government nor the state police command at the time of filing this report, but another source close to Zumba community told Daily Sun that about nine boats carrying over 300 people from Shayita arrived Zumba river bank at about 10am yesterday morning with their belongings.
It could be recalled that gunmen had sustained attacks on about 15 communities across three local government areas of Shiroro, Munya and Paikoro, killing unspecified number of people and abducted over 30 people.
Animals and other properties were stolen from the people as hundreds have been forced to relocate from their homes.
The Commissioner for Local Government and Internal Security, Emmanuel Umar, while interacting with newsmen, on Tuesday, disclosed that some successes have been achieved in the last few days by the security agents in the war against the gunmen, including the recovery of undisclosed number of animals.
He also said that a man suspected to be the supplier of Indian hemp to the gunmen was also apprehended by the security agents.