A police officer and five others were on Wednesday killed in Kagara town following a bank robbery in Rafi local government area of Niger State.
Kagara is the council headquarters of Rafi local government area. Wednesday’s attack is the third in a year, the gunmen struck twice in a month, residents said.
Six people, including a mobile police officer, were killed in the latest attack, according to residents of the area.
The state government, in a press statement, confirmed the incident, calling for calm, saying the government is deploying all resources at its disposal to ensure the protection of lives and property.
Residents said gunmen numbering about 100 stormed the town on motorcycles, wielding sophisticated weapons. They said the assailants rode straight to a First Bank branch and engaged armed security personnel in a fire fight.
In the process, one police officer was shot dead and many others residents injured. However, the gunmen were unable to loot the bank but they broke into the ATMs and carted away money, many residents said.
The gunmen also abducted many residents during the attack, a source said, asking not to be named for security reasons.
The gunmen launched the attack around 6pm with the intent of robbing the bank, and operated unchallenged for hours, despite the efforts of residents to notify the relevant security agencies about the attack, sources said.
A resident of Madaka community, on the outskirts of Kagara town, narrated that the gunmen passed through their village before reaching Kagara town. The resident said security agencies were informed about the movement of the bandits; however, no action was taken to prevent the attack.
Wasiu Abiodun, the police spokesperson in Niger State, did not respond to multiple calls and messages seeking comment.
The Rafi council area in Niger State shares a border with the restive Birnin Gwari local government area in Kaduna state.
Banditry has been a long-running scourge for residents of the area. In Niger State, between 2011 and June 2020, over 582 people were killed in attacks within that period.
In its statement, the state government through the state governor’s press secretary, Mary Noel-Berje, appealed to residents of the area to remain calm and maintain peace.
“This appeal is coming against the backdrop of bandits’ attack on the town and the panic elicited by a social media video, in which the residents of the area were seen running helter skelter and calling for intervention from the state government and the army,” the statement read.
The state governor also expressed condolence to the victims of the attack, maintaining that no responsible government would sit idle and allow its citizens to be mauled down.
“The governor commiserates with the families of those who lost their lives in the attack, and prayed for speedy recovery for the injured victims.”
The governor also acknowledged the enormity of the security challenges facing the state, but assured the people of the state and its security agencies remain undaunted in its war against criminal elements
“He solicited the cooperation of the people for their useful information to the security agencies, assuring them that their identity will be kept confidential,” the statement ended.