From John Adams, Minna
Armed bandits ambushed and killed 20 vigilantes in Kotonkoro village of Mariga Local Government Area of Niger State.
The latest attack comes barely three weeks after the state governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, visited the vigilante group in the area and assured them of government support by equipping them with high caliber weapons to enable them take the fight to the bandits.
A reliable source close to the community said that the bandits on Wednesday night attacked a military base in Kotonkoro, killing one soldier and injuring another.
The commandant of the vigilantes in the local government, Abu Hashimu, confirmed the killing of his men to Daily Sun on Thursday in a telephone interview.
According to him, ‘the slain vigilantes were returning from search operation when they were ambushed. Sixteen of them were killed on the spot, while the bandits pursued four others who tried to escape and gun them down also.’
He said that the bodies of the slain vigilantes have been recovered and buried, adding that a joint security operation consisting of military and vigilantes has lodge manhunt for the bandits.
It was further gathered that the combine security team has entered the Dutse Magajiya forest as at Thursday combing it for the bandits.
It would be recalled that the officials of the state government and the renowned Islamic Scholar last month met with some bandits commanders in the same Dutsen Magajiya where peace initiative took place before the eventual release of the abducted 42 passengers on board the state transport authority were released.
The Secretary to the State Government Alhaji Ahmed Ibrahim Matane also confirmed the story saying so far 20 vigilante have been lost to the attack by the bandits.
Matane also said the military post in the area was also attacked and ‘we lost one soldier’.