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Gunmen invade Niger market, killing 21 people, including a newlywed butcher.

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On Thursday, bandits mercilessly gunned down 21 people, including Sani, a recently married butcher from Kagara, Rafi Local Government Area, Niger State, during an attack on the weekly market in Madaka community.

According to reports, Sani, who intended to sell meat at the market, was attacked by the assailants with brutal force.

The brutality didn’t stop there. Muslim women, observing their fast, were coerced into breaking their religious observance under threat of violence by the bandits.

The assailants struck at a peak hour of commercial activity, around 3 pm, catching residents off guard.

Salihu Abdullahi, a distraught father whose 8-year-old daughter was shot during the attack, recounted the harrowing experience. He described how bandits terrorized the community, burning down essential infrastructure and ruthlessly targeting innocent civilians, including women and children.

Residents pointed to a lapse in security measures, particularly noting the absence of vigilantes who had previously safeguarded the community. Allegations surfaced that the attack coincided with the arrest of a vigilante commander, leaving the community vulnerable to such atrocities.

Madaka’s youth leader, Saidu Bwale, condemned the attack as one of the deadliest the community had endured, highlighting the urgent need for heightened security measures.

Confirming the assault, Brig Gen. Bello Abdullahi Mohammed (retd), Niger State’s Commissioner for Homeland Security, assured collaboration with security agencies to quell the recurring attacks plaguing farming communities. However, residents remain skeptical, demanding concrete action to stem the tide of insecurity ravaging their lives and livelihoods.

As the community grapples with the aftermath of this senseless violence, calls intensify for robust governmental intervention and sustained efforts to restore peace and security in Rafi Local Government Area and beyond.

“We were at the neighbouring village where we went to mine gold when we saw people running. Some people started jumping into the river, even those who didn’t know how to swim. So, I rushed home on my motorcycle to pick up my family.

“On my way, I was stopped to go back, that they had taken over the community already. They burnt down our clinic and shops containing goods worth millions of naira, motorcycles, trucks, foodstuffs and houses. They gathered our women and forced them to break their fast. One of them that attempted to resist was beaten mercilessly.

“My little daughter was among those they shot. She’s 8-year-old. In the first place, I counted 11 corpses. More bodies were later recovered. And uptil now, many people have not been accounted for because many people sustained bullet wounds and they ran to the bush. Some people died in the bush.

“Over the years, vigilantes have protected our communities. We contribute money to pay them and buy them food items to enable them face the security job and they have been doing well. Since we formed the vigilante bandits have not attacked our community. We didn’t know what happened, the commander was arrested and they asked them to stop the operation.”

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