No fewer than 14 people were killed by gunmen suspected to be terrorists during a Maulud celebration at Rugan Kusa Community in Musawa Local Government Area of Katsina State.
The suspected terrorists stormed the Maulud celebration venue at about 10: 00pm on Sunday, when the victims from Yar Ungwa and Gidan Malamai communities in Matazu Local Government Area assembled at the Rugan Kusa for the fest.
Meanwhile, the police have rescued a catholic priest, Rev. Fr. Andrew Amana, who was abducted by bandits at his residence at St. Francis Catholic Church Godogodo, Jama’a Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
Spokesperson of the Kaduna State Police Command, Mansur Hassan, said the clergyman was abducted on November 3, 2023, in the night at his residence at St. Francis Catholic Church Godogodo.
When THISDAY visited the embattled Katsina communities on Monday, it was observed that in the attack which appeared to be a reprisal and lasted for over an hour, the hoodlums kidnapped 20 other residents, mostly women and children.
The Convener of the Maulud, Malam Abdulaziz Ibrahim, who confirmed the incident in an interview with THISDAY, said 60 children were attending the fest when the terrorists invaded the venue and started shooting sporadically after which, they went from house to house to abduct some villagers.
He said: “One of the bandits first passed across the Maulud venue and called my name, after I answered him surprisingly, the next thing I heard was twin gunshots arising from different directions. I quickly fell down from my chair and crawled down towards the backyard.
“After the bandits surrounded the venue of the celebration, they fired gunshots at the participants, injuring many and abducted 20 others. After they eventually left the area, we found the corpses of our students lying down in a pool of blood.
“We called for reinforcement from the police and other security forces but before they responded to the distress call, the hoodlums had left into the nearby forest which serves as their hideouts.”
Confirming the incident to journalists shortly after visiting the affected communities, the Lawmaker representing Musawa/Matazu Federal Constituency, Hon. Abdullahi Aliyu Ahmed, said 14 persons were killed by the terrorists during the attack.
The lawmaker who described the attack as terrible, said the hoodlums also abducted 20 people, and left 19 others with varying degrees of injuries, calling on the government to end the prevailing security challenges in the state.
Ahmed, who also visited the Federal Teaching Hospital, Katsina, where the injured victims are receiving treatment, donated some cash to them in order to clear some of their hospital bills.
According to him, “13 people died on the spot and another child died this afternoon (Monday) at the Federal Teaching Hospital, 19 people injured and more than 20 missing. And one person later died in the hospital here.”
But the State Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Abubakar Sadiq Aliyu, while confirming the incident, stated that nine persons were shot dead and 18 sustained gunshot injuries as a result of the attack.
Aliyu, in a statement, said: “On November 5, 2023 at about 2230 hours, armed bandits in their numbers, wielding dangerous weapons such as AK-47 rifles and shooting sporadically, attacked the Maulud procession at Rugar Kusa village, Musawa LGA, Katsina State.
“Upon receipt of the report, immediately, operatives were mobilised and swung into action, where they succeeded in repelling the attack. Seven (7) people were shot dead, and eighteen (18) people sustained gunshot injuries as a result of the attack and were evacuated to General Hospital Musawa for immediate medical attention.
“However, two (2) people out of the injured were confirmed dead by the doctor while receiving treatment. The investigation is still ongoing. Efforts are on with a view to arresting the perpetrators of the dastardly act. Further development will be communicated in due course.”
Governor Dikko Umaru Radda, has paid a condolence visit to the affected communities and vowed to bring to an end the spate of killings and abductions in the state.
Meanwhile, on the Kaduna rescue, spokesperson of the Kaduna State Police Command, Mansur Hassan, said the operatives of the police in Kafanchan Divisional Command launched a manhunt for the criminals which led to the rescue of the priest unhurt and the arrest of two suspects on November 4.
He said: “The police, in conjunction with local vigilantes trailed the gunmen to their hideout in the vast Dogon Kurmi forest where a gun duel ensued.
According to him, “The police operatives tactically combed the forest and successfully dislodged the hoodlums and rescued the clergyman unhurt.”
Hassan said two suspects, namely: Lawal Muhammad, 27 and Ya’u Hussain 30, were arrested while an AK-47 rifle loaded with two rounds of live 7.62 X 39mm ammunition was recovered from them.
He said preliminary investigation revealed that the hoodlums and the family of the victim had earlier settled for a ransom of N4 million before the police struck.
“The gunmen were four in number thus, two are still at large, though strongly suspected to be nursing gunshot wounds from the violent combat.
“Hence, the Police Command is calling on the public around that axis to be on the watch for any person or persons nursing suspected bullet injuries and report the same to the closest Police station or any security outfit.
“The Commissioner of Police Kaduna State Command, CP Musa Yusuf Garba, while commending the Operatives for the recorded success, charged them not to relent in denying criminal elements in the state of any operating space.
“He again called on the members of the public to always be on the lookout for suspicious characters in their area and report them to any nearest security agency”, Hassan said.
Francis Sardauna and John Shiklam