Khadija, abducted girl
Last week, activities of bandits and kidnappers in Katsina State took a new dimension.
They now dress as women in long robes to conceal their weapons.
On other occasions, they wear male outfits with the traditional headgear (turban) to penetrate the communities.
Banditry has been on the rise in some places in the state, forcing some residents to protest, with a call for the resignation of President Muhammadu Buhari, who is also from the state.
They evolved from boarding tricycles to attack passengers and using motorcycles, to disguising as women wearing long gowns, popularly called Abaya and Hijab. They adopted this strategy to attack the Kauyen Baidu Sabuwar Unguwar area of Kurfi town, abducting two persons and shooting another last week.
Residents said the new tactics could be deadly because several women are dressed in a similar manner in the predominantly Muslim community. They said the women-cover used by the bandits was the second attack in a month. The residents said with the new approach, the bandits evaded detection by the community’s vigilante group.
But the chairman of the vigilante group, Nura Liman, said they had learnt from the last attack and reviewed their operations, in line with the peculiar challenges.
“Henceforth, we have resolved that women must not be seen outside after 8 pm. They have to be indoors,” he said
Witnesses said during the last attack that led to the new operation strategy of the vigilante group, about 20 bandits packed their motorcycles behind a hill at the outskirts of the community and walked down, covered in women attires about 9 pm.
Residents said the bandits concealed their weapons underneath their cloths while darkness provided additional cover for their operations. The locals said the bandits had earlier abducted two women in the town.
Last Sunday’s operation led to the abduction of the daughter of the Dean of Student Affairs at the Federal University, Dutsinma, Dr Muttaka Mamman. The victim, Khadija, 11, was kidnapped alongside a mother of seven, Murja Umar, while Ibrahim Yar Gashe was shot in his leg. The injured resident is recuperating in a hospital.
Dr Mamman said the bandits attacked about 9pm.
“My son, Umar, was walking home from their aunt’s house with the girl that was abducted when she was whisked away. My son saw about 10 women with hijabs coming towards them and became suspicious. She tried to get away but one climbed into the balcony and took her away,” he said, adding that they awaited communication from the bandits.
Shamsiya who was lucky to have escaped
Shamsiya Faruk, who was held by the bandits but escaped said, “I heard gunshots as I was eating with my husband. I tried to run out but was held back by my husband.
My sister, Murja, kept calling for help. I went to the door, opened it, then one of the bandits grabbed my leg. I managed to remove all my cloths and ran away,” she said.
She said that during the scuffle, her husband was pulling her, as well as the bandit. adding that the bandit shot at her husband but missed.
Shamsiyya’s husband, Faruk Mohammed said, “When my wife opened the door, a shot was fired, which narrowly missed me and put a hole through the gate. You can see it (pointing at the door).”
He said he was lucky to be alive. “They were merciless. They took Murja forcefully despite her shout for help,” he said.
The husband of the abducted Murja, a retired driver, Ahmed Kurfi, was confused when he was told about the abduction of his wife. “I was at the mosque when the incident happened. I heard gunshots, which made me come home, only to find out what happened.”
Some residents who witnessed the operation said they were caught off guard. A resident, Mohammed Lawal said, “We were sitting in the dark on a bench when we heard gunshots; before you knew it, we all dispersed for safety.”
While some communities are still grappling with how to evolve new safety strategies, many residents have fled.
A fortnight ago, the bandits ransacked several villages, including Kureci, Giye, Gurza, Gurzan Kuka, Makanwaci, Didu, Ukalawa, Tsasr Mangwaro, Sanawa and Unguwar Bera in the neighbouring Dutsinma Local Government Area, where many villagers were dislodged and an undisclosed number of animals carted away.
When Daily Trust Saturday visited the area, women and children were seen carrying their remaining belongings and fleeing their community.
Fatima Abbas from Dogon Ruwa village said, “I fear for my life and I have to move because our villages came under attack.”
Another woman, Barira Suleiman from Kurechi village, who was with her eight children, said, “I am relocating to Karhi village to squat with a relative. I was lucky to be safe this time, but I don’t know what may happen afterward.”
For fear of attacks, The Federal University, Dutsin-Ma, which main campus is located around the area, has banned its staff from the main campus for official engagements.
In a statement by the university’s acting director of public relations and protocol, Habibu Matazu, the vice chancellor of the university, Prof Armaya’u Hamisu Bichi, directed members of staff to work from the institution’s takeoff campus until further notice.
Confirming the incident, the spokesman of the state police command, SP Gambo Isa, said the bandits, armed with AK47 rifles, attacked the village, shooting indiscriminately. He said they abducted a girl and shot one Ibrahim Yar Gashe in the leg. According to him, the shot victim is presently receiving treatment in a hospital.
“Men of Operation Puff Adder and Saran Daji are making efforts to rescue the girl,” he added
He said the police were doing their best to eradicate banditry in the state, adding that three of the bandits were killed last week, while six motorcycles, 30 cows and 60 sheep were recovered. He said three suspected bandits were also arrested.
Source: Daily Trust