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17 bandits, others killed in fresh Katsina attacks

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• FG urges religious leaders to unite against terrorism
• ‘More Boko Haram members surrender to army’

More than 20 persons are feared killed and scores of others wounded as bandits attacked four communities in Katsina State.The affected communities are Tsabuwa in Batsari Local Government Area and Gurbi and two others in Kankara Local Government Area.

According to the residents, three of the attacks occurred in the early hours of yesterday and those of Tsabuwa started on Wednesday night and lasted till yesterday morning.

It was learnt that in Gurbi, 17 bandits lost their lives to superior firepower of security agents and many others were injured. Four residents of the community were, however, killed by the marauding group. The bodies of five of those killed were ferried from Gurbi to the Kankara Police station.In Tsabuwa, some people were also reportedly killed and others injured during the attacks. The exact number of victims was being debated at press time.

It was the same situation in the two other communities in Kankara, where the attackers were said to have killed some residents, looted property and set some houses ablaze. The police, in a statement issued to reporters, yesterday by the spokesman of the state command, SP Gambo Isah, said the bandits who stormed Gurbi, armed with AK47 rifles, were resisted shortly after they began the attacks.

“Today at about 03:00hrs, a distress call was received that bandits in their numbers armed with AK 47 rifles stormed Gurbi village, Kankara LGA of Katsina State, killed four persons and rustled a large number of domestic animals after they received a fierce resistance by the local vigilance groups.“In response, the Commissioner of Police, Sanusi Buba, directed the divisional police officer of Kankara Division to lead Operation Puff Adder in collaboration with vigilance groups to the scene.

“The bandits were engaged in a shootout along with some vigilance members. The team succeeded and killed 17 suspected bandits and recovered 80 cows, 108 sheep and a donkey from the hoodlums earlier carted away from the village and other neighbouring villages. “During the attack, the bandits killed one Alhaji Sanusi of Yar-Bakaje, Akilu Isuhu of Bawa Gidan Mai Ruwa, Nana Husaini of Unguwar Farin Dutse, Gurbi village and Muntari Sama’ila of Gidan Korau village, all of Kankara Local Government Area, while three other persons sustained injuries.

“Some of the bandits managed to escape with gunshot wounds. “Operatives are combing the nearby bushes for the arrest of the fleeing bandits and recovery of their operational weapons. An investigation is ongoing,” the statement read. On February 14, more than 30 residents were killed in Dankar and Tsauwa villages in Batsari Local Government Area by suspected bandits.

The police, during an operation on February 24, killed five suspected bandits who were terrorising Katsina and the neighbouring Zamfara State.The security agents assured the people that they were working round the clock to ensure that the bandits and their activities were effectively tackled, for peace to return to Katsina that has witnessed upsurge in banditry in recent time.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has appealed to religious leaders in the country to stay united and ignore the antics of Boko Haram who are desperately attacking Christians to create disaffection and throw Nigeria into a religious war. At a media briefing in Abuja yesterday, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, urged leaders, especially religious leaders, not to fall for the antics of Boko Haram and ISWAP, who are trying to divide the country along religious lines by targeting Christians for attacks.

The minister said it was the last desperate move by a decimated and disillusioned band of killers to stay relevant amid constant decimation by gallant Nigerian troops. “We have what it takes to come together and foil this divisive and satanic strategy.“We appeal to Nigerians to support the military as it moves to decapitate the insurgents. Second-guessing the military at this time is like playing into the hands of Boko Haram.”

Mohammed noted that Boko Haram insurgents were not discriminating between Christians and Muslims when they carried out their attacks in the past, as churches and mosques, Christians and Muslims were attacked the same way.

“When they targeted motor parks, the religion, gender, ethnicity or political leaning of the victims didn’t matter, as long as they inflict the maximum damage to lives and property.

“But in the wake of a renewed onslaught by the military against Boko Haram and their ISWAP allies in recent times, the insurgents have apparently changed their strategy. They have started targeting Christians and Christian villages for a specific reason, which is to trigger a religious war and throw the nation into chaos. Apparently, they have realized how emotive and divisive religion can be, when exploited by unscrupulous persons,” the minister said.

Mohammed stressed that the insurgents, who delude themselves as Muslims whereas they are nothing more than blood-thirsty, rapacious killers who subscribe to no religion, stepped up attacks against Christians to sow the seed of confusion between the two great religions.Although Boko Haram now seems to have adopted a deliberate policy of targeting Christians, the minister said this did not in any way signify that they have stopped attacking Muslims.

“The attack on a Christian village, Kwarangulum, near Chibok; the killing of the Chairman of the Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Michika Local Government in Adamawa, Lawan Andimi; the killing of Ropvil Daciya Dalep, a student who was also a member of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN); and the killing of 11 Christians on Christmas eve, among others, fit into this new strategy”.

“Some have misinterpreted this to insinuate a systematic campaign to persecute Christians in Nigeria. This is absurd, and very unfair to the men and women who are daily battling the insurgents,” he said. The minister spoke as the Nigerian Army said that the continuous ‘chocking and decimation’ of unrepentant Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) remnants from their enclaves were yielding results to
end the war.

The terrorists’ hideouts are located in the Lake Chad region and Sambisa Forest of the insurgency-affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.The Coordinator of Army Media Operation, Col. Aminu Iliyasu yesterday in Maiduguri, Borno State, stated: “It is evident in the frequency and number of the criminal terrorists succumbing to the unbearable battle pressure being unleashed on them.”He said the terrorists fleeing into neighbouring Chad, Niger and Cameroon were surrendering to troops who were conducting clearance operations in the region and forest. Iliyasu said that on February 21, 2020, eight Boko Haram fighters along with 14 family members, comprising six women and eight children, surrendered to troops of 152 Task Force Battalion, Bama in Borno State.


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