Residents of Mada community in Gusau Local Government Area of Zamfara State have deserted their homes for fear of more attacks from bandits after the killing of seven vigilante members on Sunday, in what some residents say was a reprisal attack.
Confirming the incident, the police authorities in the state told this newspaper on Monday that officers have been sent to ensure that residents of the community are safe.
Yusuf Anka, a resident with deep knowledge of the conflict in the area, said the vigilante commander, Danmudi Na Mada, led his colleagues to attack a hideout of the bandits and killed one notorious bandit known as Mala’ikan Hausawa (Angel of death in Hausa).
Mr Anka said the killing of the bandit angered other bandits which led to the reprisal.
“Last week Dan-Mudi’s group recorded the killing of a notorious bandit leader nicknamed ‘Mala’ikan Hausawa’, he was also recently accused of setting ablaze homes of innocent Fulani in Tsafe,” Mr Anka said.
The slain Vigilante leader was praised for securing Hausa communities, especially Mada and Wonaka but it was also alleged that he was involved in the killing of innocent Fulanis in the area.
A local source who asked not to be named over concern for his safety told this newspaper that they attacked the vigilante members around 10:47 pm.
“The bandits wanted to take over Mada town Wanakat stiff resistance from the vigilante members. The exchange of gunfire between them lasted for hours before they overpowered the vigilante and killed seven of them. They however couldn’t get into the town after the arrival of soldiers and policemen,” he said.
Accordig to Premium Times, most of the residents of the community have fled.
“We don’t know what will happen this night because they (bandits) may decide to return to take over the town. They are angry with the way some of our people are providing information to vigilante members which sometimes leads to the capture and Killing of the bandits. Even last week, some of them were captured and killed by the vigilante members. They (bandits) see us as their enemies,” he said.
Zamfara, like in other areas in Nigeria’s North-west region, is convulsing under the attacks by gunmen locally called bandits who attack mostly rural communities and travellers.
These bandits have been blamed for killing thousands of people. They have also abducted many more in what is shaping to become one of the worst kidnap-for-ransom syndicates in the history of the country.
In the face of the failure of the government to protect residents of the area, many communities have set up vigilante groups to protect residents from attacks by bandits but this has worsened the security challenges in the area as it has given rise to an explosion of tit-for-tat killings between the bandits (who are mostly of Fulani extraction) and the vigilante groups set up by the majority Hausa communities in the area.