Not less than 30 passengers on a bus in Nigeria’s Sokoto state were burnt to death when gunmen attack the bus they were travelling in and setting it ablaze in the process, police and residents disclosed. This latest attack is yet another reminder of growing insecurity in Africa’s most populous country.
Sanusi Abubakar, spokesman for the Northwestern Sokoto State police, stated that the bus was carrying 24 passengers when it was set alight by the armed men. He further revealed that seven people have escaped with injuries and were taken to hospital.
Nevertheless, two residents who reached the scene and helped retrieve the bodies contradicted the account by Mr Abubakar. They recounted that, the bus was overloaded, making the total number of occupants more than the 24 the spokesman mentioned. The witnesses also noted that the bodies were burnt beyond recognition.
“We counted body parts of at least 30 people, including women and children.”Witness
The residents alleged that the villagers were ambushed on a road linking the Sabon Birni local government area and the village of Gidan Bawa in Sokoto state.
The residents averred that “the gunmen usually move around on motor-bikes and are known to hide in forests, where they often keep kidnapped victims, while awaiting ransom payment.”
The residents suggested that the attackers deliberately set the vehicle on fire, burning the occupants alive, while another account of the incidence indicated that the fire ignited on the bus as a result of the attackers’ gunfire.
An official involved in evacuating the casualties described the scene as horrendous and that most of the victims were burnt beyond recognition.
Sokoto State Police Command assured that they are investigating the circumstances of the attack and will bring the perpetrators to book.
Incidence of Gunmen Attack on the Rise
Gunmen, known locally as bandits, have in the past years carried out violent attacks, targeting villagers and commuters travelling on highways. They kidnapped hundreds of school children for ransom in the North of the country.
It can be recalled that last month, November 2021, gunmen killed a military officer when they attacked some soldiers in Awo Mmamma in the Oru East Local Government Area of Imo State. In reprisal, military men regrouped, stormed the town and allegedly burnt a hotel, cars, houses and shops.
The incident which happened at Ishieke junction in the area has caused panic in the community and as a result, many indigenes of the community fled as soldiers took over the community.
“Some of the hoodlums attacked some soldiers at Ishieke junction in Awo Mmamma and killed one of them. They zoomed off towards Ihiala in Anambra State. Later, soldiers invaded the area and caused havoc in the area by setting a hotel, cars, houses and stalls on fire”, an eye witness recounted.
This is just one of series of attacks as Imo State has been experiencing series of attacks lately, especially on security formations. On April 5, 2021, armed men invaded the headquarters of the Imo State Police Command and the Nigerian Correctional Service in Owerri, burnt the facilities and freed over 1,800 inmates.
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