No fewer than 26 corpses of residents of Duma village in Tureta Local Government Area of Sokoto State have been recovered.
The victims reportedly drowned in an attempt to escape from a gun duel between security operatives and bandits in a nearby forest.
Daily Trust learnt that the incident occurred last Wednesday when operatives under Operation Hadarin Daji engaged suspected bandits who rustled livestock in some communities in the neighbouring Zamfara State.
The Public Relations Officer of the Sokoto Police Command, DSP Sanusi Abubakar, while confirming the incident, said when the residents heard gunshots in the forest and spotted some dislodged bandits, they became panic and started running helter-skelter.
He said, “They thought the fleeing bandits were coming to attack them. They started running amok as a result of which some of them got drowned. Twenty-six lifeless bodies were later recovered and buried.”
Abubakar said the joint operation was still ongoing as the axis was condoned off by the security operatives.
He, however, dismissed a report that some of the residents were shot by the bandits, saying there was no gunshot injury on any of the recovered corpses.
Meanwhile, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State on Friday condoled with the people of Duma village over the incident.
Accompanied by all the security chiefs: Army, Air Force, Nigeria Police, and the Department of State Service, the governor sympathized with the community and relatives of the victims.
He said he was there on behalf of the government and people of the state to commiserate with them over the incident.
Tambuwal assured people of the area that the government and security agencies were doing their best to ensure peace in the state.
He appealed for more cooperation from the security agencies and also prayed to Allah to continue giving them victory over the bandits and other criminal elements.
The governor solicited the support of the people, urging them to expose informants giving information to bandits.
“We must therefore expose them even if those concerned are your relations. You are obliged to expose them for the community to have peace,” he advised
The governor directed the immediate release of relief materials to IDPs in the area.