Gunmen suspected to be bandits have attacked the First Bank branch in Kagara, a community in Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State.
Eyewitnesses said scores of armed men riding on motorcycles stormed the area at about 6pm on Wednesday and started shooting into the air before heading for the bank.
They added that many residents in the area sustained varying degrees of injury from gunshots and a yet-to-be-ascertained number of people were feared killed.
A traditional title holder in Kagara told Channels Television that members of the local vigilante group in the area had attempted to combat the assailants, but they were overpowered by the gunmen.
He started hearing the gunshots a short while after returning home, initially believing they were from the vigilante group in the area.
But when the shots persisted he suspected something was amiss. A phone call he received not long after confirmed what was going on.
Asked about the reaction of the police to the attack, and the situation around 8pm, he said, “The personnel we have cannot confront them (the attackers) as a matter of fact. Apart from the fact that they are many, they have more weapons.”
In addition to the firepower the attackers had, he said they positioned themselves in strategic locations and acted in an organised manner.
The source said details about the casualty figures were not clear but they were casualties on both side.
“I think one (of the attackers) was even captured alive,” he said. “I know of four people that were shot but not fatally… one on the arm, one on the leg, but the other two, I can’t tell where they were shot.”
He said a fighter jet from the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) had helped to repel the attack.
“When it started, we made some calls and an Air Force jet came. So that rattled them,” he said. If we have been having this kind of support as we have with the Air Force, I am telling you this thing (the attacks) would be a thing of the past.”
A message from a missionary in the area during the attack said a police station was also attacked.
“Sir, this evening at 6pm, bandits attacked Kagara town, killed six people in the bank, and attacked a police station.
“Please pray and ask our brethren to also pray for us. My family is in the bush now,” the message read.
It is unclear how much was stolen from the bank by the attackers and efforts to speak with the police authorities in Niger were unsuccessful.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Abiodun Wasiu, did not pick his calls or respond to messages sent to his phone.
In recent times, Kagara and many other communities in Rafi LGA have come under serious security threats by bandits.