Herdsmen kill 21, injure 15 in midnight attack in Niger State

  • Seventeen killed in mass prison break in Papua New Guinea
  • As Afghan official says Roadside bomb killed 4 in eastern province

Blood flowed in Etogi community, Mokwa Local Government Area of Niger State, when gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen, in the early hours of Saturday, killed 21 people and injured about 15 others.

This latest attack is almost two months after the last herdsmen’s attack on Lefu community, in Gurara Local Government Area, where seven people were killed and 10 others kidnapped.

It was gathered that the Saturday night attack was in reprisal for an earlier disagreement between some Fulani youths and members of the affected community, which led to the death of a herder.

According to a source close to the community, the herdsmen were offered land by the community as their settlement, on the agreement that a certain amount of money would be paid to the village head every year.

Trouble started when the herdsmen failed to remit the agreed amount this year, claiming that the land in question now belonged to them.

This did not go down well with the youths in the community who went on rampage, leading to the death of a herder.

The herders were said to have reached out for support from their kinsmen elsewhere and launched an attack on the community mosque, when Muslim faithful were observing their early morning prayers.

Malam Mairo Mohammed, who lost a brother in the attack, told Daily Sun on phone that the attackers, who laid siege to the mosque, waiting for early morning worshippers, killed everybody in the mosque, including the Imam.

Women and children, who were woken by the commotion, took to their heels, with about 15 of them sustaining injuries in the process.

The state police command’s  public relation officer, DSP Bala Elkana, confirmed the report, saying 20 people were killed in the attack.

He said the attack was reprisal for the killing of a herder by the villagers.

“The killing of a herder was managed, but it appears they were not satisfied and decided to retaliate,” Elkana said.

According to him, a number of people sustained injuries during the attack and are currently recuperating in a nearby hospital.

He said that riot policemen had been deployed to the community, while Department of the State Security and officers of the command’s Criminal Investigation Department were on hand to maintain peace.

In the meantime, prison guards have shot dead 17 inmates after a mass breakout at Buimo prison in Papua New Guinea.

Three prisoners have been recaptured while 57 others managed to escape and remain at large.

Authorities have warned that the escaped inmates, some of them still awaiting trial, pose a serious threat to the safety of the area.

The prison in Lae, Papua New Guinea’s second largest city, has seen repeated similar escapes over the past years.

“The majority of those who escaped were arrested for serious crimes and were in custody awaiting trial,” police Chief Super­in­tendent Anthony Wagambie was quoted in several local media.

“A good number were arrested by police last year for mainly armed robberies, car thefts, break and enter and stealing. Among them are convicted prisoners.”

He warned the escapees that they would be caught and encouraged them to surrender themselves to community leaders, church elders or family members to then be taken back to prison.

Prisons in Papua New Guinea often suffer from overcrowding, poor conditions and long waiting periods for prisoners awaiting trial.

In 2016, at least 11 prisoners were shot dead and more than 70 escaped when they stormed the main gate, overpowering the guards.

The previous year, some 50 prisoners managed to escaped in a similar way.

In another development, an Afghan official says at least four people were killed when a police vehicle hit a roadside bomb in eastern Paktia province. Abdullah Hsrat, spokesman for the provincial governor, says two border police officers and two civilians were killed in the attack, which took place in Zazi Aryub district on Sunday night.

He says the explosion also wounded two other policemen.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing but the Taliban have stepped up their attacks against the Afghan security forces across the country.

Separately, Hsart says a dispute between two rival Taliban commanders in the same province set off clashes over the weekend that left at least five insurgents dead.

The Sun with additional report from BBC and ABC