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6 killed as cattle rustlers invade settlement in Niger

Tragedy struck on Monday in Kukkoki village, a Fulani settlement in Shiroro Local Government of Niger State, as some suspected cattle rustlers, numbering about 100  and heavily armed with sophisticated weapons  invaded the village,  killing six people, among whom were four Fulanis and two Hausas.

And in the ensuing confusion that enveloped the village during the invasion   by gunmen who were said to have operated in a command-like manner, scores of people, including  women and children  suffered varying degrees of injuries  in an attack which lasted about four hours.

Metro gathered that no fewer than 700 heads of cattle, goats and sheep were allegedly rustled by the invaders.

An eyewitness told Metro in Minna, the state capital, on Wednesday that  the rustlers arrived the settlement at about 7.00 a.m. and started shooting sporadically into the air to scare away members of the community in the operation that terminated at about 11.00 a.m.

The source, who pleaded for anonymity, said the operation did not end until about four hours later, as every resident of the village and the neighbouring communities in the council areas were said to have run for dear lives.

“As a result,  many of the villagers scampered into safety to nearby communities and bushes, and in the process, deserting their ancestral homes,” said the source.

As of the  time of filing this report, normalcy was yet to return to the affected Fulanis settlement and its environs, while the authorities of the Niger State Police Command were said to have  brought the situation under control.

The police appealed to the people who were allegedly shocked and gripped with palpable fear of further attacks to return to their homes  in the affected village.

The Police Public Relations Officer, Niger State Police Command, DSP Bala Elkana confirmed the incident, saying  two of the suspected rustlers hadbeen nabbed, while efforts were ongoing to arrest their fleeing accomplices, with a view to bringing them to book.

DSP Elkana added that  police presence had been increased in the community, even as the Police Commissioner, Alhaji Zubairu Muazu,  had relocated to the affected village with some  top officers of the command.

He, however, stated that the police was yet to have the actual  figure  of the rustled cattle, cows and sheep, just as he also confirmed the casualty figure.