Henry Umahi, Lagos and Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Barely one week after the massacre of local miners at Janruwa, in Birnin-Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State, blood flowed again in the area at the weekend as bandits killed about 45 people in Gwaska village. It was gathered that the bandits struck on Saturday, killing mostly children.
Eyewitnesses said the bandits from neighbouring Zamfara State encircled Gwaska up to Kuiga village, shooting indiscriminately. Also, the bandits completely burnt down the village of about 3,000 inhabitants.
Survivors, mostly women, now at Doka district, said most of those killed were volunteers that tried to defend the village and children that could escape the onslaught.
Other sources from the local vigilance groups said they were in Gwaska with the military at about 7pm but the commander asked the soldiers to retreat because of darkness. Also, vigilantes were said to have made a U-turn with a handful of survivors and injured people.
According to locals, “the vigilantes informed us that the casualties would be more but promised to mobilise tomorrow for evacuation of more casualties.
“We would continue to appeal to the authorities to take urgent steps to forestall further attacks and extinction of communities in Birnin-Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State.”
A statement by the Birnin-Gwari Vanguard for Security and Good Governance said: “So far, about 45 dead bodies were evacuated by the brave vigilantes and volunteers, numbering 500, with the assistance of a handful of soldiers this afternoon (yesterday).
“One of the vigilantes said the tense atmosphere and untidy nature of the village environment necessitated the evacuation of 45 bodies discovered for burial rites in Birnin-Gwari town.”
The group said that one of the volunteers disclosed that search and rescue operations were ongoing in Gwaska, adding that the death toll may increase, as more bodies are likely to be found in the bush.
“While we commend the resilience of the brave vigilantes and volunteers, we equally call on the people of Birnin-Gwari to remain calm and vigilant for peaceful burial rites of the deceased and await government’s response (if any) on the massacre of innocent lives and destruction of their homes by armed bandits,” the statement said.
However, spokesman for the Kaduna State Police Command, ASP Mukhtar Aliyu, said he was still working to get details of the incident at the time of this report.