By Ibrahim HassanWuyo, Kaduna Andy Asemota, Katsina & Sam Eyoboka
IT was one of the worst weeks in the recent history of the North. Stories of blood, tears and sorrow have become common, leaving the North with the unenviable tag of the axis of mass killings.
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Celebrants slain at wedding grounds; children, women and men slaughtered in broad daylight and traditional rulers took captives and many others raped, killed and abandoned all in the North.
As if that was not enough, soldiers deployed to take care of others were ambushed and killed by daring bandits in Katsina State, while blood-thirsty enemies of the people wreaked havoc in many parts of Kaduna.
In clear terms, the North is in a war situation, where peace, safety and protection have since taken flight leaving the people on their own despite the promise of protection and defence by the government of Nigeria.
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It is trouble everywhere one turns in the North and anything can happen to anyone despite the presence of security operatives, who themselves are objects of attacks from the hoodlums masquerading as bandits, terrorists, kidnappers and rapists, among others.
Southern Kaduna was again turned into a killing field as gunmen raided communities killing and maiming the natives. For instance, between last Monday and Tuesday, 32 persons were killed by bandits in separate attacks in the state: 21 persons were brutally killed in Kukum Daji village in Kaura Local Government Area, while 11 persons were slaughtered in Gora Can village of Zango Kataf Local Government Area of the state.
Although the Kaduna State Government had imposed a curfew on the communities in an attempt to contain the escalation of a communal crisis that arose when a native was found dead on farmland, communities in the area continued to suffer incessant attacks.
As a result, many have been displaced with a deep feeling of irreparable loss. In the renewed attack, gunmen killed a village head and nine other natives of Gora Gan village in Zango-Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
A six-year-old boy was also not spared by the blood-thirsty elements during the attack in which many other villagers sustained injuries, while houses were burnt.
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Vice-Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria of Zango-Kataf LGA, Pastor Isaac Ango-Makama, said corpses of the victims were kept at the Zonkwa General Hospital morgue, while the injured were taken to hospitals for treatment.
He said the villagers were still searching for their missing relations.
The attacks and subsequent dislocation of economic activities in the communities left the natives with no means of livelihood. Farming, which is the major occupation, is no longer attractive as going to the farm is now a very dangerous thing to do.
Secretary of the Mercy Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, camp in Zonkwa, Ezekiel James, said they were in dire need of aid to cater for the displaced persons, as the IDPs camp was daily receiving victims who were displaced by persistent attacks on neighbouring villages.
ICC condemns attacks
International Christian Concern, ICC, on Thursday, condemned continued violent attacks on Christian communities in Southern Kaduna and parts of Borno State, reiterating its call on the authorities and the international community to recognise the religious nature of the violence in Nigeria and work vigorously to stamp it out.
Responding to latest attacks in Southern Kaduna, Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator of International Christian Concern quoted a statement credited to ICC’s Advocacy Manager, Jay Church, who had been following developments in the region.
He said: “International Christian Concern has been tracking the violence in Nigeria for some time and is gravely concerned by the recent increase in attacks against Christian communities in the Middle-Belt region.
“Our records indicate over 2,200 casualties from almost 500 attacks between January and June of this year alone, and the rate of attacks is only increasing.
“Prior to the attack on Gora Gan, the police in Kaduna had confirmed an attack on Kukum Daji Village of Kaura Local Government Area of Kaduna State, where 19 people were attacked during a wedding celebration and killed.”
The Kaduna Police Command’s Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, ASP Muhammad Jalige, who confirmed the attack, however, said that the casualty figure was yet to be ascertained.
But locals said the village was attacked around 10:30 on Sunday night, when the heavily armed gunmen raided the village.
“About 30 other persons who narrowly escaped, sustained various degrees of injury,” they said.
Attackers stormed village at 10.35 pm—CDA President
Speaking to journalists, President of the Community’s Development Association, Mr. Yashen Titus, said his people were shot dead after a wedding celebration in the community.
He added: “The attackers stormed the village at exactly 10:35. They were heavily armed and started shooting sporadically at the villagers. They shot people celebrating at a party after a wedding ceremony.
“In the event, 17 people died instantly from gunshots, 32 other people who sustained various degrees of injury were rushed to the hospitals; but unfortunately, two of them died in the hospital.
“As I speak, some of the villagers are still missing and we don’t know their state. We cannot even search deep into the bush because security agents have not been deployed to the community yet.”
Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, had assured that armed banditry in the country’s northern regions would soon be “a thing of the past”.
Olonisakin, who made the remark when he visited the troops of a new military exercise “Sahel Sanity” in Faskari, Katsina State, said the launch of “Sahel Sanity” was a testimony to the army’s commitment to addressing all security challenges facing the country.
He said the real-time exercise would be transformed into operation aimed at attacking banditry in Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kaduna and Niger states.
He added that “there is no doubt in my mind that the scourge of the banditry will soon be a thing of the past and all law-abiding citizens would be able to resume their normal lives.”
Meanwhile, in Katsina, no fewer than 40 innocent children, officers and men of the military were slain on Saturday. 11 children in Yammama Village, Malumfashi Local Government Area of the state, we’re fiddling with what they innocently thought to be toys, when the grenades they found in a farm they were cutting grasses to feed domestic animals exploded in their faces.
Six of them, including five from the same parent, died on the spot about 11.30 am. The others, who escaped untimely death on a fateful day, were rushed to the hospital in critical conditions for treatment.
It was, in fact, a double tragedy in Katsina that day as no fewer than 16 of the Nigerian soldiers and officers lost their lives in Jibia axis of the state.
Later in the night, it was gathered that the troops were advancing on foot in Shimfida Village of Jibia Local Government Area when they were ambushed by dare-devil gunmen at about 6.13pm.
The cause of the tragedy that also left about 28 other soldiers wounded, was traced to the bandits’ camp on a hilltop in the area.
Conflicting reports over cause of killings
There are conflicting reports about the casualties on the Jibia incident. The Defence Headquarters said the troops of Operation Sahel Sanity killed over 17 of the gunmen but suffered the casualty of an officer, two soldiers, with four others being wounded in the action contrary to reports.