Multiple sources said Nasarawar Mai Fara in Tsafe local government was attacked over the failure of the residents to pay a N40 million levy imposed by the bandits.
Bandits have killed at least 30 people, abducted several others, mostly women, in separate attacks Friday afternoon in Zamfara State.
The attacked communities are Nasarawar Mai Fara in Tsafe local government area, Yar Katsina in Bungudu local government area and Nasarawa village in Bakura local government area.
Zamfara, like many of the Nigerian Northwest states, is beleaguered by insecurity in the forms of kidnapping described as banditry. The crime has become rampant and the bandits are seemingly irrepressible.
Thousands of people have been killed or kidnapped by the bandits in the region and extending to Niger State, since 2021. In the first three weeks of 2022, at least 486 people were killed by non-state actors across Nigeria, over half of them by bandits in the North-west and Niger State.
20 killed after failing to pay levy
Multiple sources told PREMIUM TIMES that the attack on Nasarawar Mai Fara in Tsafe local government was due to the failure of the residents to pay a N40 million levy imposed by the bandits.
The levy was imposed by Ada Aleru, a notorious banditry kingpin operating in the area and the Faskari part of Katsina State.
Abubakar Bala, a resident of Tsafe, said residents could not pay the levy, hence the attack.
Mr Balarabe, who has covered conflict for a local radio station and Thunder Blowers Online, said 20 people had been confirmed dead as of Friday evening.
Chief Imam killed
In Bakura area, a health worker, Masud Kyambarawa, told PREMIUM TIMES that three people, including the chief imam of the area, Akilu Dan Malam, were killed.
He said, “I was in the town yesterday when the shooting started. We went for a survey. We had to rush to a neighbouring village in Rabah of Sokoto State. It was an unpleasant experience. People, especially women and children, were running into the bush for their lives. Alhamdulillah, we are back now safely but I heard that three people were killed.”
In Yar Katsina village of Bungudu, the bandits stopped people from attending the Muslims’ Jumu’at prayers.
A source, who asked not to be named for security reasons, told this reporter that when the bandits stormed the village, people were already at the only Jumu’at mosque but dispersed immediately.
Abdul Balarabe, a local journalist in Gusau, said at least 10 people were killed in the attack.
“Ten bodies have been recovered so far and several other people are still missing. Residents are saying they don’t know whether those still missing were kidnapped or not. The bandits entered the village during Jumu’at prayers,” Mr Balarabe said.
Mr Bala of Tsafe lamented the increasing number of attacks on villages and abduction of motorists on the Funtua – Gusau highway.
“The dangerous spots are Sheme to Yankara and the axis around Kucheri, a few metres before Tsafe,” he said.
The state police command spokesperson, Mohammed Shehu, promised to verify the information and get back to this reporter but had not done that as of the time of filing this report.