No fewer than 30 people, mostly women and children, who were fleeing a terrorist attack in their community in Zamfara State, drowned on Wednesday when two canoes they were travelling in capsized.

Residents of Birnin Wajje in Bukkuyum area of Zamfara State, said the terrorists invaded the village around 6 p.m.

Birnin Wajje is a riverine community, two kilometres from the local government headquarters, Bukkuyum.

“The terrorists invaded the community while residents were preparing for the dawn prayers and started shooting sporadically,” a local source, who asked not to be named for safety reasons, told PREMIUM TIMES over that phone.

“They entered the community from the western end but before they got deep into the community, other residents started fleeing to Zauma (a community across the river) but they had to cross the river.”

Director-General to Governor Bello Matawalle on New Media, Ibrahim Zauma, who is also from the area, confirmed the incident on his Facebook page.

He said: “Following an onboard stampede of displaced persons running from pursuing bandit terrorists at Zauma ferry station, an unknown number of mostly women and children got drowned after two canoes capsized.”

When contacted through phone, Zauma said he was yet to get the full details of the accident. Abubakar Shehu, a resident of Bukkuyum said the boats capsized due to overload.

Terrorists take over community

Another source from Zugu, a neighbouring community, Lawali Sambo, said Birnin Wajje has been taken over by the terrorists.

He said a team of vigilante members tried to repel the attack but were overpowered by the terrorists.

“Since that time yesterday (6:15 p.m) the entire community has remained under the control of the bandits. Several people have been trapped inside their houses. The bandits slept in the community and we’ve heard that they are still in the village,” he said.

Mr Sambo said the rescue teams trying to recover corpses of the drowned had to do it from the Zauma side of the river because “the Birnin Wajje side is still under the control of bandits.”

The police spokesperson in Zamfara State, Mohammed Shehu’s known phone number was unreachable. An SMS sent to the number was not responded to.

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