Seven children have been reported dead and several others injured following a stampede in Shimfida village, Jibia Local Government Area of Katsina State.
The incident occurred Thursday morning, March 10, a few hours after soldiers serving in a joint security task force were withdrawn from the community, residents told Premium Times.
The soldiers were stationed at Government Secondary School, Shimfida, about 27 Kilometres from Jibia town, the local council headquarters, until their withdrawal on Thursday.
Kabir Haruna, the councillor for Shimfida ward in the local council, said that the soldiers had been in the town for about eight years.
However, immediately after confirming that the troops were going to make a non-return trip, the residents became apprehensive, with many believing that the terrorists would strike seeing that the community had become vulnerable.
Bearing this in mind, residents began to pack all their belongings, some waiting for the slightest sign of an onslaught before they set out while others started fleeing their respective houses to seek refuge elsewhere.
No sooner had the people closed their eyes to sleep, than the gunmen invaded the community and started shooting sporadically.
A leader of a civil society organisation in the state, Muntari TBO, told the publication that the deadly stampede was triggered by the sounds of the gunshots, with the residents believing the bandits had launched an attack.
It was later found out that the bandits were only celebrating the exit of the soldiers from the area, a resident later said after the town had been deserted.
Mr TBO said the military and government did not inform the community ahead of the withdrawal of the soldiers.
Bara’u Muhammad, an indigene of Shimfida, residing in Jibia town, said over 1000 women and children fleeing Shimfida had arrived in Jibia town by Thursday afternoon.
“They are taking refuge at Tashar Furera in Pilot Primary School, Jibia. Others have crossed to the neighbouring Niger Republic via Gurbin Baure community,” Mr Muhammad said, confirming that Shimfida had been deserted.
He said many of the fleeing residents trekked to Jibia from Shimfida.
Mr Muhammad said the remains of the seven children were buried Thursday evening in Jibia, while the injured persons from the stampede were in hospital in Jibia.
“The councillor for Shimfida ward joined locals in funeral prayers in Jibia for the seven children who died from the stampede,” Mr Muhammad added.
At the moment, the police and other security agencies were yet to make formal statements regarding the development.