Gunmen suspected to be an armed robbery gang in the early hours of yesterday invaded Dogon Dawa village, near Birnin-Gwari, some 100 kilometres from Kaduna metropolis in Kaduna state and killed at least 20 persons including Muslim worshippers who were leaving the mosque after performing their early morning prayer.
This is barely two weeks after about 30 students of Mubi Polytechnic in Adamawa state were massacred by yet to be apprehended gunmen.
Eyewitnesses said the attackers embarked on a house to house search for some victims after which they started shooting indiscriminately resulting in the high death toll. Some of the victims were also stabbed to death by the attackers.
A resident who pleaded anonymity said that the attackers had stormed the house of the man they believed tipped the police off and killed him and his two children after which they cut the hand of his wife. He said most of those killed by the gang were just coming from early morning prayer.
According to him, “this morning (yesterday), the criminals went to the house of the man they suspected to be responsible for identifying them, killed him and two of his children and cut the hand of his wife.
“They also killed 17 other people in the village. Those people they killed were just coming from the early morning prayers. I can confirm to you that it was not a robbery operation, it was the criminals who went on a reprisal because the people have been identifying them”, he said.
Though police authorities have yet to identify the killers, there were reports that the gang had earlier written a letter to the community in which they threatened revenge by attacking the village.
A resident said due to the incessant attacks by armed robbers, the community had set up a committee to help fish out the culprits, a decision that yielded dividends as they were able to identify some of the criminals.
“A former hakimi (village leader) in Dogo Dawa was in charge of the committee that was responsible for sanitizing the area and that is why in the last three months, there has been less incidents of robbery in the area as the people were able to identify the criminals and they were being eliminated silently one after the other”, he said.
In the same vein, a traditional ruler in a neighbouring community told newsmen that he suspected that the attackers were armed robbers on revenge mission.
“We are suspecting a reprisal by gangs of armed robbers who lost some of their members after a recent exchange of fire with the villagers and the vigilantes. The village had been terrorised by an armed group operating from camps in the forest. These armed men mostly attack villages and motorists along the busy Kaduna to Lagos highway.”
Kaduna state Commissioner of Police, Olufemi Adenaike, who confirmed the incident said he could not confirm the number of those killed in the attack and who were responsible.
According to him, “some people are saying the attackers were Fulani herdsmen who were probably on reprisal attack but the question is; what reprisal attack?
“So, my men have moved to the scene to get details of the incident. We could not get immediate information from the area because the network there is very poor but as soon as we get the details and number of people killed, we will let you know.”
The situation has heightened fears in the area as residents have started fleeing the villages around Dogo Daji for fears of further attacks.