Friday, 24 May 2013
Kaduna Attacks Latest: 3 Police Officers Killed, Millions Stolen From Banks In Birnin Gwari
SaharaReporters has learnt that Governor Muktar Yero of Kaduna State has rushed this morning to Birnin Gwari town, the scene of yesterday’s brazen, five-hour operation by a group of armed bandits.
SaharaReporters broke the news of the dare-devil attacks in Birnin Gwari town in Kaduna State. Our correspondent has since discovered that attackers killed three police officers, wounded several more, and made away with millions of naira from the vaults of two banks.
“The governor is still in town now,” a security source told SaharaReporters, adding that a huge contingent of the police were also present in every part of the town.
Another source disclosed that the additional police contingent was not able to enter the town until the early hours of today. “The armed bandits operated for four, even five hours without any serious police challenge,” said the source.
News of the attacks was first received from students living in the town of Birnin Gwari in Kaduna State's Birnin Gwari local government area. The informants told SaharaReporters that heavily armed bandits had overrun the police station in the area and burnt it down after engaging the police in gun battle. “The police were so overwhelmed that they took to their heels,” one source had told our correspondent.
The attackers completely razed the police station in the attack that started at midnight, according to the source.
ECO Bank, Unity Bank, and First Bank branches in the town as well as other public buildings were also attacked and bombed along with the police station, according to one elderly witness. The man told Saharareporters that the heavily armed men arrived in unmarked vehicles and set the police station on fire after a two-hour long gun battle. The source said the attackers appeared to use explosives in breaking into the banks.
One of our sources, who claimed to have witnessed the attacks, said the bandits planted Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) that exploded simultaneously amid gun shots.
The source said the bandits were part of a group of armed robbers believed to be hiding out in a nearby forest. He disclosed that, prior to yesterday’s attacks, the bandits had launched assaults in several villages and districts including Kuyelo and Randagi on Friday and Tuesday respectively.
The source also stated that the unidentified gunmen had sealed off the whole township last night before launching their attacks. A security source told SaharaReporters that the Divisional Police Office (DPO) was out of the area at the time of the attacks last night. SaharaReporters also learnt that soldiers who are part of “Operation Zaki” refused to move into the area at night to combat the attackers. The commanders of the soldiers were reportedly afraid of being ambushed at night by the armed bandits.
“We are trapped, and we’re under fear,” one of our sources told SaharaReporters last night. He added, “We need military support too. If not, there is no certainty on our lives. As I speak, they are still firing.”
Last night’s attacks were not the first in the town’s recent history. In October, 2012, armed bandits invaded the town and killed some 20 worshippers leaving a mosque.
SaharaReporters tried last night to speak with official spokesmen of the army and police, without success. However, a district head said the Kaduna State police commissioner had promised to intervene as soon as possible.
Just last week, the Emir of Birnin Gwari, Mai Jubril Zubair, had visited the new governor of Kaduna State. The emir, who was accompanied by several politicians, top civil servants and district heads in the area, had asked the governor for increased security in the area. The traditional ruler complained that armed bandits in the area had stolen up to 10,000 cows and murdered several people. The governor had promised to set up a committee to find the stolen cows and to deal with the bandits.
A source told SaharaReporters he suspected last night’s attacks were a kind of reprisal for the emir's visit to the governor and a way to serve notice to the governor that he can do little to stop the bandits operating in the area. However, a security source told our correspondent this morning that he did not think the attacks were related at all to the emir’s visit to the governor or the governor’s threat to deal with the bandits.