By Wole Mosadomi
Seventeen people were yesterday, killed in Maza-Kula village in Mashegu local government area of Niger State as suspected armed bandits invaded a mosque in an early morning attack, with many injured and eighteen abducted.
But, the state police command said that the incident was understood to be a reprisal attack resulting from a long-standing communal feud.
The armed men were said to have arrived in the village in a long convoy on motorcycles and made straight to the mosque where they started shooting sporadically to scare the people.
Those who rushed out of the Mosque were reportedly gunned down while others trapped in the mosque were also shot at close range and left in their pools of blood.
It was gathered that many, who were scampering for safety, sustained various degrees of injuries.
At the end of the raid, no fewer than eighteen people were abducted and their whereabouts unknown till now.
A resident, who pleaded anonymity, said they were caught unaware. “The entire village was calm with people in different mosques performing their morning prayers only to start hearing sporadic shooting and later heard that many people had been killed, others injured and some abducted
“ We are yet to know where they were taken to or those behind it,” he remarked.
When contacted, Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Ahmed Ibrahim Matane, confirmed the attack but said that sixteen people were killed in the Mosque while others were killed at Kaboji village by the same armed men.
He added that the state Government had already despatched a team of Military personnel to combe the area.
Chairman of the Council, Alh Alhassan Isa Maza_Kuka, who described the attack as devastating, however, said one of the injured people that is in critical condition has been referred to Minna General Hospital for medical attention.
The State Police Command, yesterday, confirmed the attack, as the Commissioner of Police, Mr Monday Kuryas, said the bandits killed an unspecified number of people and also abducted seven other worshipers at the mosque.
Kuryas said the incident occurred on Oct. 25 at about 0530 hours when the gunmen attacked the village.
He said the gunmen later destroyed property worth millions of Naira belonging to one Alhaji Abubakar Maigandus in the village.
He said security personnel, however, shot dead one of the bandits.
The commissioner said that the incident was understood to be a reprisal attack resulting from a long-standing communal feud.
He said that already additional armed security personnel had since been deployed to the area to ensure the arrest of the gunmen and all other miscreants undermining the peaceful coexistence among residents.
He urged the residents, especially those in the rural areas of the state, to come forward with reliable information that could aid the personnel deployed across the state to ensure the arrest and prosecution of all those involved in criminal acts.
“ We are battle-ready to confront any form of criminal elements as long as good residents will volunteer credible information on the movement of dubious characters in their midst,” Kuryas said.