Twenty people have been reported dead as bandits again attacked Zungeru and neighbouring communities in Niger State on Friday.

The bandits also kidnapped Al-mustapha Mustapha, a traditional chief and kingmaker in Zungeru, and two of his wives, residents said.

Residents said the two persons were killed by stray bullets fired by the bandits while 18 drowned in a river while trying to escape the attacks by the bandits.

Zungeru is a town under Wushishi Local Government area of Niger State.

Sources, who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES, said the bandits had rained terror on Zungeru and neighbouring communities last Friday.

“At around 9 a.m., bandits on at least 70 motorcycles arrived at Kudu village that is under Rafi local government area of Niger State and the boundary to Zungeru town.

“From there, they started operation of stealing money, valuable items like phones and cattle and other animals in Kutunku village,Tashan Jarka village, Tashan Girgi village, Babako village, Utare village,Agwa, Buzu villages and stopped at Pakara village from where they started coming back where they had started from on that Friday,” Mr Shehu said.

“They had settled and rested at Kundu primary schools together with the stolen animals. From 6 p.m. that Friday they blocked that major road that links Minna to Tegina until Saturday 7 a.m.”

According to the resident, the bandits killed some people while many people fell into the Wushishi river out of the fear of being attacked.

This was also confirmed by the district head of Zungeru, Salisu Abubakar, who told this newspaper that two were killed by stray bullets and 18 drowned to death.

PREMIUM TIMES gathered that the attack that led to the kidnap of Mr Mustapha and his wives took place on Saturday night through to Sunday morning.

“Thirteen minutes to 1 a.m., they got to know the house of Alhaji Mustapha, Madawaki of Zungeru, where he just entered his own house after he attended his neighbours’s wedding dinner,” Kabiru Shehu, a resident told our correspondent

Narrating how it happened, Mr Shehu said the kidnappers took Mr Mustapha and one of his servants to his wives for identification before the abduction.

“They took both of them to his wives and asked who is their husband between the two men? The wives pointed at their husband, Alhaji Mustapha, Madawakin Zungeru. From there they moved with the Madawaki and two of his wives named Aisha and Habiba.”

A close relation and uncle to Mr Mustapha, said the family was waiting for the call of the kidnappers as they were yet to make contacts or demand ransom.

Mr Abubakar said the people are helpless, decrying how the bandits have overpowered the communities involved.

“We can only be praying to God,” the community leader said.

The spokesperson and police commissioner in Niger State did not respond to telephone calls and messages put across to seek their reactions on Monday.

Niger State has been a haven for bandits in the past few months with several abductions and killings perpetrated in different communities.

Within the space of six months, two mass abductions of school children and teachers were carried out in Kagara Science College in Kagara and Saliu Tanko Islamic school in Tegina, both in Rafi Local Government Area of the state.

While the Kagara students were freed after a few days, the Islamic school pupils, 139 of them, are still with their kidnappers, waiting for the intervention of the government.

The security crisis in Niger, which has rendered many homeless, is a chunk of the security challenges bedevilling the country.

This newspaper had on Sunday reported how no fewer than 201 were killed and 137 abducted in violent attacks across the country last week

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