A combined team of soldiers and local vigilante outfit yesterday repelled a bandits attack on Erena, a town in Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State.
In the fierce battle, which an eyewitness said lasted for close to four hours, the bandits reportedly lost four of their men but no casualty was reported on the part of the soldiers and the local security men.
However, a truck belonging to the soldiers was said to have been set on fire by the bandits as they fled the battle field.
The bandits in their numbers, who were riding on motorcycles, according to the eyewitness, attempted to storm the town at about 4a.m. but the soldiers and the vigilance group, who were in the Government Day Secondary School buildings in Erena, were not caught unawares.
The spokesman for the Shiroro Youths Forum, Mallam Bello Ibrahim, who confirmed the incident in a telephone conversation, said: “Yes I can confirm to you that in the early hours of today (yesterday), terrorists in their large numbers stormed Erena town in an attempt to unleash terror on our defenceless, peaceful and unsuspecting people.
“The terrorists, however, met a vehemently resistant Security Joint Task Force, comprising conventional security and local vigilantes, stationed at the Government Day Secondary School in Erena.
“They engaged them in a fierce gun battle, which lasted for hours and consequently, the criminals couldn’t gain access into the town. There were sporadic gunshots which could be heard all over the area.”
Ibrahim further confirmed that “a vehicle belonging to the gallant security men was seen to have been burnt,” but explained that the attack was, however, repelled by the security agents.
Neither the police nor the army authorities could be reached to confirm the incident.
Meanwhile, it was not known when the military base was returned to Erena town, but in the wake of weekly attacks on the town and neighbouring communities, the Senator representing the district, Alhaji Sani Musa, had pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari to set up a military base in the area for quick response to distress call by the villagers.