A spontaneous exchange of gunfire raged near Abuja on Thursday night between Nigerian soldiers and armed bandits, according to a security officer and witnesses’ accounts.
The battle reportedly took place between Zuba and Madalla, both satellite communities of the Nigerian capital city, with the latter being part of the contiguous Niger State, witnesses said, without immediate reports of fatalities.
Witnesses said that the bandits were reportedly making an eastern push into the nation’s capital when Nigerian soldiers intercepted them at joint security forces barricades close to Zuma Rock.
“We were going on patrol when we heard about an ongoing fight between soldiers and bandits,” a police officer in the nation’s capital told Peoples Gazette. “They tried to radio us that it was a bad situation there.”
The officer said the situation was too fuzzy to provide further details about the attack, speaking under anonymity because he was not an authorised police spokesperson. Soldiers from Suleja Barracks were said to have been put on high alert, although it was unclear if the facility was attacked.
Witnesses’ accounts, including videos on social media, revealed severe traffic build-up as motorists remained trapped on the Abuja-Kaduna highway amidst fear of being caught in the crossfire.
Abdullahi Saidu, a resident of Zuba, told The Gazette the bandits had reportedly attacked villages while foraging along the highway.
“The bandits attacked some villages near Madalla and packed food on their motorbikes,” Mr Saidu said. “Some of the village people have been running towards Madalla because the bandits are riding their motorcycles to Abuja.”