Police say 16 personnel killed in Zamfara, four days after incident occurred
THE Nigeria Police Force has announced that 16 of its personnel were killed by unknown assailants in Zamfara State on November 29.
Jimoh Moshood, the Force Public Relations Officer, made this known in a statement late Tuesday, four days after the incident took place.
An earlier statement by the police had claimed that only one policeman was killed in the attack while 12 others were injured. The initial statement also claimed the police killed 104 of the bandits, destroyed 50 hideouts of the bandits arrested 85 suspects after a daredevilry ambush by the criminals.
In Tuesday’s updated statement, Moshood said a search and rescue operation by a Police Joint Intervention Force found 20 more policemen alive and 16 men dead.
“The IGP is saddened with the death of the gallant officers whom he describes as heroes of the Force; their demise is a great loss to Nigeria Police Force and our dear nation, Nigeria. The supreme price they paid for the security and safety of the Country will not be in vain,” Moshood said.
He added that “Police Special Forces personnel, Counter Terrorism Unit, Police Mobile Force, Federal SARS personnel with three (3) surveillance patrol helicopters have commenced an on-going operation being strengthened to rout out the remnant armed bandits and other criminal elements in the caves and mountains in the identified bandits hideouts in some locations in Zamfara State.”
Unofficial sources say the number of policemen killed in the November 29 attack could be as high as 50, and their bodies are yet to be evacuated by the officers.
Premium Times, in a report on Sunday, quoted a police officer who asked not to be mentioned as saying that “the bodies (of the slain policemen) are already decomposing because we have no capacity to enter the bush to recover them. We know they are over 50 who were killed, but those finding it difficult to move because they were seriously wounded could be still rescued”.
However, the Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of operations, Joshak Habila, told journalists on Wednesday that “we now have all our men, including the 17 that were killed and the 20 that went missing but now found and rescued”.
On Monday, December 3, former Vice President Abubakar Atiku urged President Buhari to declare a seven-day mourning for the slain police personnel. He pointed out that the incident, coming so close to the Boko Haram attacks on soldiers in the North East, ” is a red flag that calls for immediate and decisive action on the part of the leadership of Nigeria”.
In August this year, the Secretary to the Zamfara State Government, Abdullahi Shinkafi, said banditry in the State has claimed over 3000 lives in the past few years.