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Bloodbath in Niger!

*As bandits reportedly kill 43 persons including top security officials in Shiroro

*Many villagers also killed, several others including 4 Chinese abducted

*Attack took place at mining site owned by Chinese in Shiroro area of Niger State

*State govt confirms attack, urges security agencies to ensure safe return of abducted victims

By Hammed Salawu, Minna

Amidst conflicting figures, reports have it that no fewer than 43 persons including 30 soldiers were killed by gunmen suspected to be bandits at a mining site in Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger state.

However, in confirming the attack which took place in the evening of Wednesday, June 29, the Niger state government said the number of casualties is yet to be ascertained but residents of the area were said to have insisted that a search party found 37 bodies of soldiers and policemen in a bush near the mining site yesterday morning and that corpses of six civilians were also recovered from the bush.

The residents were also reported to have further revealed that many Chinese nationals and Nigerians were abducted during the attack on the mining site.

An eye witness, Sani Abubakar Yusuf Akoki, who is the co-convener, Shiroro Youth of Niger State said the terrorists attacked a mining site, ostensibly owned by the Chinese killing people indiscriminately.

Akoki said a confirmed report from Ajata – Aboki in Gurmana Ward of Shiroro local government of the state indicated that, “in broad daylight, a large number of hydra headed, venomous, murderous and heartless terrorists heavily armed and well equipped with assorted sophisticated and dangerous weapons stormed the aforementioned Village and headed to a mining site owned by expatriates and started unleashing mayhem on unsuspecting victims.”

He said the mining site owned and managed by foreign nationals has for a very long time become a place of attraction and a good target for criminals because of its juicy and lucrative disposition.

“During yesterday’s deadly encounter, a large number of casualties were instantly recorded at the said mining site owned and managed by Chinese nationals as the AK-47 rifle wielding terrorists gunned down their victims at sight as well as shot into the air thereby leading to more devastating consequences.

”Information at my disposal further proved that, about 11 people including seven Mobile Policemen attached to the mining site probably as guards (providing security cover for the expatriates) and six other civilians were gruesomely killed through an ambush while scores of others who sustained various degrees of multiple gunshots injuries (some in critical condition) have been taken to various Medical Facilities for treatment.

“They succeeded in kidnapping an unspecified number of Chinese Nationals and they are currently being held hostage. It was terrific and terrible and the scene was bloody”, he stated.

Akoki noted that on getting the wind of the ugly development, Nigerian Army stationed at a nearby Erena swung into action by engaging them in fire for fire confrontation but unfortunately and sadly, as at yesterday, about six officers were gunned down while many others were wounded through multiple gunshots.

“In view of this, we are calling for more support from higher authorities and reinforcement especially from the Nigerian Air Force through air strike in order to straighten the tireless efforts of the gallant officers at the warfront.

“He lamented that “amidst the ravaging insecurity, one can hardly fathom the rationale behind granting operational license to expatriates to carry out mining activities in highly risky and volatile areas.

“This crass negligence and lackadaisical posture by the Government has the potentiality of inviting chaos and instability to the affected areas and it will undoubtedly endanger the lives of residents from the vicinity. This is the height of insensitivity and irresponsibility on the part of Government”, he added.

The eye witness lamented that kidnap for ransom has become a common phenomenon in the localities and that “it is quite unfortunate that we have been forced to coexist with this sad reality. We are being killed, maimed, and raped among other inhuman subjugations by marauding terrorists.

“These rampaging terrorists attack their victims at will, ironically and unfortunately in some cases without slightest hindrance, resistance or confrontation from the conventional security. Sadly too, defenseless, unarmed and peaceful locals have crassly been abandoned to their fate thereby compelling them to wallow in perpetual agony and misery”, he further lamented.

The Niger State Government has since confirmed an attack as the state Commissioner for Internal Security, Mr Emmanuel Umaru stated in a statement in Minna yesterday, adding that a joint security team was quickly mobilised to the scene in response to a distress call received by the government.

“Consequently, the joint security team engaged the terrorists and they were yet to determine the number of casualties from both sides. However, a yet to be ascertained number of workers in the mining site including four Chinese nationals were reported to have been abducted.”

He assured that the state government would continue to provide the needed support to enable the eradication of banditry in the state.

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