On 21 June, police authorities in Katsina State said the attacks on the police station and Bank PHB building in Kankara the previous day, in which seven people were killed, was carried out by armed bandits and not members of the militant Islamist group, Boko Haram.
According to the Public Relations Officer of the Katsina State Police Command, ASP Abubakar Mohammed, the bandits numbering about 10, killed seven people – five policemen and two civilians – and stole all the money from the day’s transactions at the Bank PHB branch, an amount yet to be ascertained. He said the corpses of those killed had been deposited at the morgue of the General Hospital in Katsina.
He said the police was working on measures to bring the perpetuators to book and avert further occurrences. Already, the police has found a vehicle allegedly abandoned by the bandits which may be a useful lead towards tracking them down.
The PRO particularly appealed to members of the public to assist the police with relevant information on any strangers or any unusual developments they see around them.
Local sources say members of the group, numbering about 10, were armed with AK-47 rifles and explosives, and clad in long robes. It was further reported that they wore beards and shouted “Allahu Akbar (God is greatest)”, throughout the operation.
They say as the group got close to the divisional police station, its members split into two units. One unit attacked the station, killing three policemen including the Divisional Crime Officer (DCO) and freeing suspected criminals who were detained in cells at the station, pending their arraignment in court. They then looted arms and ammunition from the station, and threw an explosive inside before fleeing. The witnesses say the explosion that followed reduced the station to rubble with the bodies of three uniformed policemen lying among the ruins.
The second group stormed the nearby Bank PHB, shooting two policemen and a bank security guard to death. They then blew up the bank’s door with an explosive, which enabled them to gain entry and cart away an unknown amount of cash.
The sources further report that a man who attempted to pick up a bundle of the stolen cash which fell off from the attackers’ loot was shot by the fleeing gunmen, and later died in hospital.
The gunmen were said to have escaped in two vehicles, one speeding down the Kankara-Shema road, the other fleeing through the Kankara-Katsina road.
The gunmen are suspected to have been members of the militant Islamist sect, popularly referred to as Boko Haram.
Boko Haram, which means “Western education is sin”, has been demanding more comprehensive and stricter implementation of Islamic Sharia law, adopted by 12 states in northern Nigeria between 1999 and 2001. In July 2009, it launched an uprising which was firmly quelled by security forces with over 800 persons, mostly sect members, killed.
Since mid-2010, it has waged a campaign of serial assassinations and bombings, targeting security personnel and politicians, clerics and community leaders. Until recently, those attacks were concentrated in Borno and, to a lesser degree, Bauchi State. But on 16 June, its suicide bomber set off a bomb at the national police headquarters in Abuja, killing at least two people and destroying a large number of vehicles.
This is the group’s first attack in Katsina State. It may also be a first demontration of the notice it served on 15 June, that it will be carrying out wider and firecer attacks in other parts of northern Nigeria.
On 20 April, the Katsina State Commissioner of Police, Mr Ibrahim Mohammad, reported that four people were burnt to death in their houses, and 42 inmates let loose from the prison in Malumfashi, during the riots that followed the presidential election results, in Katsina State.
Providing a comprehensive report on recent violence in the state, the police commissioner said that in Malumfashi, about 11 houses including Governor Ibrahim Shema’s Campaign Organisation’s office, the homes of the chairman and secretary of the local government council, and the private houses of some chieftains of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) were burnt down. Ten vehicles were also set ablaze. The prisoners escaped when the rioters broke into the jail house and drove the prison wardens away.
CP Mohammed said in Funtua, the rioters destroyed or burnt more than seven vehicles, restaurants and private schools.
In Kankara, the rioters set fires to the house of the ex-chairman of Kankara local council, Mamman Sani; the PDP office in the local government; a vehicle parked in the council boss’ house and Governor Shema’s campaign office.
The CP said 15 churches were razed down: Five in Funtua, four in Daura and three in Malumfashi.
The police boss reported that over 107 persons had been arrested in Malumfashi, Funtua, Daura, Kankara, Jibia and Katsina metropolis, in connection with the attack on the prison and the destruction of public and private property. Mohammed said one of the suspects, Abddulkadri Yahaya, 28, while trying to escape arrest, grabbed a pot of boiling groundnut oil from a roadside bean cake fryer, and hurled it at the police officer, Lawal Sani Dansada, who was pursuing him. Dansada is presently in hospital.
The Police Commissioner said those arrested would be charged to court once investigations are completed.