Bandits in Zamfara went on a rampage recently as they blocked a major highway in the state for at least five straight days, locals said on Wednesday.
The security situation on the highway – which links three local government areas Shinkafi, Moriki (in Zurmi), and Kaura-Namoda – has left travellers in fear after the armed men were reported to have killed six motorists.
Sources said the bandits, who blocked the road to protest the closure of the cattle market in Shinkafi LGA, also abducted many passengers and set several vehicles on fire.
Although the police authorities in Zamfara confirmed the incidents, they stated that the Shinkafi–Moriki–Kaura-Namoda Road has since been cleared and is safe for use.
An Indigene of Shinkafi, Aliyu Guraguri, told Channels Television that the bandits were angry due to the closure of the cattle market and vowed that nobody would have access to other markets in the LGA having cut off the area from Kaura-Namoda and Gusau, the state capital.
“There have been incessant attacks along the road,” he said. “The attacks started around Tuesday last week when they started stopping vehicles, setting them ablaze, kidnapping people, and killing some at the gunpoint.
“They have burnt down six vehicles, killed six motorists, kidnapped several others, and caused an accident involving a trailer carrying potatoes from Shinkafi market. The bandits were saying since the cattle market was closed down, nobody will have access to other markets in Shinkafi.”
Guraguri lamented that the security situation in Shinkafi has worsened, blaming it on the suspension of telecommunications networks in the area.
Locals said the bandits also attacked Birnin Yero community in Shinkafi on Tuesday afternoon when they shot at farmers who were at their farmlands to cultivate crops.
Elsewhere, a group of armed men invaded Shinkafi town on Wednesday morning and forcefully left with a nursing mother, Aisha Bature, and her one-year-old daughter. A local vigilante was shot dead by the bandits.
The victim’s relative, Inno Bature, stated that the assailants have yet to contact the family to make any demand for ransom.
“It was around 1am when they attacked her (Aisha) inside her house. They (the bandits) have yet to contact the family for ransom. She is an orphan and may Allah return her safely,” said Inno.
Confirming the incidents, the Commissioner of Police in Zamfara, Ayuba Elkanah, explained that the command has deployed a tactical team to the troubled road.
“The situation along Kaura-Namoda-Shinkafi road is under control because some few days ago, we had challenges where these bandits took advantage of some locations to attack commuters,” he told Channels Television. “Now, we have put our heads together with other security chiefs and deployed enough security operatives along the road.
“Now the road is free for movement. We have deployed about seven operational vehicles working there morning till evening. Commuters are now using the road. Shinkafi road is not under siege.”
Elkanah also confirmed the attack on farmers in Birnin Yero, saying the bandits requested petrol from two farmers which they declined before they opened fire on them.
He added that the farmers were injured, but they were taken to the hospital by the security operatives deployed in the area.
The police commissioner urged the people of Zamfara to continue to support the police and the government, especially in view of the measures put in place to restore peace in all parts of the state.
Shinkafi, Zurmi, and Bukkuyum LGAs are the only areas where telecommunications services have yet to be restored.