Members of a pro-government vigilante group, Special Hunters and Vigilante, on Sunday, thwarted an attack by a gang of armed men in the town of Batsari in Katsina State killing several of the raiders.
Multiple local sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to concerns for their safety, said members of the vigilante group surrounded the gunmen after they entered the Batsari local government headquarters around 4:00 p.m.: 00 p.m.
Batsari is one of the most terrorized cities in Katsina State. The city shares borders with Cuttlefish, Safana, parts of Zamfara state, and the dreaded Ruguforest, which is a known hiding place for terrorists.
Residents of the Batsari communities have suffered greatly from terrorist activities that have led to the deaths of hundreds of people and the displacement of several more.
A local source said that the terrorists arrived in the city on motorcycles, wielding AK 47 rifles.
“Most of us were in the mosques for evening prayers when we heard multiple shots. That’s always his (terrorist) style; they would just walk into town and start shooting to cause panic before they start kidnapping people and stealing cattle,” he said.
He added that unknown to the terrorists, a group of vigilantes in the area were ready for them.
Another resident who teaches at an Islamiyya school said he was walking towards his school when he heard gunshots.
“I went back home and locked the door until one of my neighbors called me to let me know that the special hunters had arrived. I went to the Community High School where the bandits usually set up every time they attack and I saw that the security guards took away their motorcycles and weapons,” he said.
A leader of the vigilante group in Batsari, who also asked not to be identified for security reasons, said they were ready for battle when the terrorists attacked.
“We heard they were coming to town, so we planned it. When they passed through the Ruma community, we stationed some of our people and asked them not to attack the terrorists until they were deep inside the city.
“We put some on the west and north exits of the city because those are always their exit routes. We take note of the number of your motorcycles. So when they were busy shooting, we responded. The bandits were shocked,” he said.
He added that while the guards fired at the terrorists who were trying to escape, those stationed at the western exit of the town blocked those who were trying to flee.
The watchman said he counted seven bodies but “it could be more than that because the special group of hunters followed them into the woods and killed several of them.”
He said that most of the terrorists left their motorcycles and fled.
“We have six motorcycles and two AK 47 rifles with us now. We’ll be on their way and see if we can get some of their weapons back.
Terrorists planning revenge
He said the terrorists had regrouped and planned to take revenge but were frightened by the presence of army and police patrol vans on the main road.
“In fact, they reached the Yasore community, but when they saw patrol teams on the way, they changed their route. We want them to come because now we are ready for them,” he said.
He said vigilante members have been stationed on the routes leading into the city to monitor the movement of terrorists.
The vigilante leader said they have been working in synergy with police and soldiers in the area to prevent the attacks.
State police spokesman Gambo Isa did not respond to calls and text messages seeking comment on the attack.
Katsina state, like other northwestern states and a part of the central north, has witnessed terrorist attacks for more than a decade that have killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions more.