Friday, February 14, 2020 is a date that will linger in the memories of the inhabitants of two Katsina communities, Tsauwa and Dankar. It was the day bandits, riding on 180 motorcycles, each carrying two or three people, invaded the villages while the residents were saying their Magrib prayers at about 6.30 pm, shooting sporadically.
Some of the villagers, who were performing ablution, were shot dead in the process. At the end of the tragic incident, no fewer than 30 people lay dead; they included elderly people and infants who were allegedly seized while sucking their mothers’ breasts and thrown into the fire the bandits set to houses in the communities. Property worth millions of naira, including domestic animals, were also either burnt or looted.
The state’s Commissioner of Police, Buba Sanusi, who led a team of policemen accompanied by soldiers of the Operation Puff Adda and journalists on a visit to the two communities, expressed shock over the development, saying that security operatives would not condone such a criminal act of wanton violence against the people.
Recalling the ugly incident, two members of the affected communities, 45-year-old Salisu Lawal and 52-year-old Baba Dahiru, told The Nation that they had no inkling of the invasion, particularly because the state had enjoyed relative peace after the government’s dialogue with bandits about seven months ago.
They, therefore, urged the state government to quickly intervene in the matter to stem the tide of another round of incessant attacks.
They said: “Our infants who were sucking breasts were forcibly taken off their mothers’ laps and thrown into fire. Also, our food items were set ablaze while the animals we use in fetching water from Yau Yau and Dankar villages were also killed by the bandits.’’
Our correspondent’s effort to speak with the mothers whose babies were thrown into fire yielded no result as they were said to be among the families that had fled the communities to unknown destinations in the wake of the attacks.
The correspondent, who visited the two villages in company of security operatives last Saturday, reports that residents were seen burying their deceased family members and other loved ones amid tears.
Not only were houses burnt, goats, cows and other domestic animals belonging to the villagers were not spared. Food items and livestock were also looted.
The District Head of Batsari, who is also the Sarki Ruma, Alhaji Tukur Muazu, described the incident as horrible.
He said: “I have never seen this type of destruction in my life. The bandits arrived here (Tsauwa) at about 7 pm on Friday when residents were about observing the Magrib. Some were also preparing to sleep. The bandits laid siege to the villages, killing and destroying anything they sighted.”
He appealed to Governor Aminu Masari to come to the aid of the victims and to strengthen security in the community.