By; Our Correspondent
The alleged appearance of a Helicopter on or before raids by armed bandits in communities within the territories of Niger State is gaining more grounds just as wanton activities of armed bandits are on the rise especially in Shiroro, Rafi and Munya council areas of the state.
On Sunday, armed bandits again struck in six villages of Shiroro council area where no fewer than 1,200 cows were carted away from communities within the six villages which included Galadiman Kogo, Nakpinda, Ibru, Nnasa, Afabi, Moku and Kusansun.
Spokesperson of the affected communities, Kawu Adamu Barde of Kusansun village, comfirmed that on the evening of Sunday, armed bandits on twenty motorcycles who had arrived earlier at the Marafa forest, later moved into the villages shooting sporadically to announce their arrival at the villages.
Adamu Barde said the armed bandits operated for over one hour during which time they rounded up the animals and herded them out of the communities at gun point while the villagers were chased out by the intruders who continued to shoot at them particularly anyone who attempted to come closer.
Five men who dared the bandits were gunned down for their effrontry and impudence in confronting the bandits.
Adamu Barde said as the armed bandits moved out of the communities, the villagers mobilized and chased the fleeing armed bandits who moved towards the neighbouring forest area of Birnin Gwari axis.
He said as the villagers inched further in their pursuit of the fleeing armed bandits, suddenly a Helicopter was sighted in the skyline around the airspace of Birnin Gwari which moved behind the bandits and offered cover to the fleeing bandits.
As the villagers moved further, the Helicopter begun to shell at the approaching villagers and forced them to abandon their chase of the bandits.
Adamu Barde alleged that the Helicopter later turned to face the direction of the villagers as it’s occupants continued to fire at the villagers who scampered to different direction for safety and returned back to their respective homes empty handed.
Another source from Galadiman Kogo told our correspondent that the bandits were sighted at the Marafa forest on Friday afternoon by locals who were on their way to a neighbouring village.
They had arrived atop twenty-five motorcycles which carried two to three persons and they were believed to have passed the two nights inside the forest before they moved enmasse to the villages in Shiroro where they first attacked Galadiman Kogo community before they moved to the other villages.
Another source at Nakpinda said the Helicopter appeared on the skyline as soon as the bandits approached the border area with Birnin Gwari and gave the bandits cover and prevented the villagers from chasing the bandits into their camps in the Birnin Gwari forest.
During the raid on the six communities in Shiroro, a pastor was kidnapped by the bandits at Kusansun.
The report by locals on sighting of a Helicopter on the heels of attacks on communities in the state or immediately before an attack has continued to gain currency but no authority in the state nor at federal level has made any comment on the allegation.
Weeks back, locals at Pangu Gari, a rural community in Rafi council area claimed that some young men from the village had brought down a Helicopter which appeared in the area on banditry mission.
Till date, no authority has either refuted or confirmed the alleged incident in Pangu Gari.
Last Thursday, locals at Maikujeri village of Rafi Local Government Area had braves the odds and pursued a fleeing band of armed bandits who had rustled about one hundred and fifty flock from the communities and killed five of the bandits during a fierce bloody encounter.
All the rustled animals were rescued from the bandits. But days earlier some armed bandits had struck in some communities in Rafi and killed six persons from one family. Eight other persons were kidnapped during the raid by the armed bandits.