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No fewer than 32 people have been killed by bandits in three communities in Kaduna State.
The residents were killed following an attack on Dogon Noma, Ungwan Sarki, and Ungwan Maikori in Kajuru local government area of the state on Sunday.
This was contained in a statement issued and made available to The Star on Thursday by the Kaduna State Commissioner of Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan.
Aruwan disclosed that the bandits stormed the communities in large numbers on motorcycles, and proceeded to raze several houses and killed locals.
He said: “As of the time of this report, 32 persons have been confirmed dead following the attack.
“The bandits attacked the first two locations and killed 31 citizens. They then headed into Ungwan Maikori, where they killed one person and burnt some houses.
“The Kaduna State Government received initial reports from security agencies, that bandits attacked the villages of Dogon Noma, Ungwan Sarki, and Ungwan Maikori in Kajuru local government area on Sunday.
“According to the reports, the bandits stormed the area in large numbers on motorcycles, and proceeded to raze several houses, as they attacked and killed locals,” the statement said
The commissioner added that security agencies and traditional leaders in the locations have been updating the government since the incident occurred on Sunday.
He, however, debunked reports making the rounds that the attackers were dropped by a helicopter.
“While the government mourned the gruesome killing and burning of houses in the attacked locations, a report was published suggesting that the victims of the attack were killed by terrorists using a helicopter.
“The story that a helicopter provided air support to the bandits against the locals, is therefore an untrue account,” Aruwan said.
He further revealed that a helicopter of the Nigeria Air Force that engaged the bandits prevented them from further terrorising the villages, stressing that it did not support the gunmen.
The commissioner said: “An Air Force helicopter (under Operation Whirl Punch) dispatched to the area, had earlier scanned the first two locations and sighted burnt houses and properties on fire.
“The helicopter intercepted the bandits at the last location (Ungwan Maikori) and engaged them as they retreated, before the arrival of ground troops to the general area.
“It was the arrival of the air asset which deterred the bandits from further attacks on the citizens in the village after the bandits had already killed one local and burnt several houses.
“The military, police, and other agencies working in the general area deserve commendation and motivation, rather than demoralizing allegations.
“In the last 72 hours, security forces have conducted vigorous operations in the same general area, and are on the trail of a wounded notable terrorist,” Aruwan stated.
According to him, many kidnapped victims including foreigners were rescued from the terrorists’ den by the security operatives.
“Eyewitnesses to the peddled report of a helicopter aiding bandits in the killing of innocent citizens are invited to present their accounts to the government backed by incontrovertible facts.
“The Government of Kaduna State having gone through all the facts, finds it regrettable that a section of media would circulate an unverified report, insensitive to its implications on national security, law, and order,” he added.
Aruwan stated that Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, commiserated with the families affected and prayed for the repose of the victims’ souls.