Controversy, Friday, dogged the reported fresh abduction in Katsina State as the military and the police gave contradictory account of the number of persons rescued and how the operations were undertaken.
While the police authorities pegged the number at 84, the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) said 39.
Both, however, agreed that the incident took place in Mahuta village, Dandume Local Government Area.
The onslaught came barely two days after kidnappers released 343 students of Government Secondary School in Kankara who they held for six days.
A statement by the Police Public Relations Officer, Gambo Isah, yesterday, explained that on Friday, December 19 at about 10 pm, a distress call was received by DPO Dandume that some Islamiyya students of Hizburrahim Islamiyya numbering about 80 returning from Maulud occasion celebrated at Unguwan Alkasim village, Dandume to Mahuta village, were accosted by bandits who had already kidnapped four persons and rustled 12 cows from Danbaure village, Funtua Local Government Area.
On receipt of the report, the DPO led Operation Puff Adder, Sharan Daji and the vigilance group to the area and engaged the bandits in a gun battle.
“Subsequently, the teams succeeded in dislodging the bandits and rescued all the 84 kidnapped victims and recovered the 12 rustled cows.
“Search parties are still combing the area with a view to arresting the injured bandits and recovery of their dead bodies.”
In its own account, the military, in a statement by Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche, said: “Troops of Operation HADARIN DAJI in conjunction with police and local vigilante deployed at Dandume LGA of Katsina State received a distress call at about 11:30 PM on 19 December 2020 from locals at Mahuta village that suspected bandits were moving with unconfirmed numbers of Islamiya children mostly girls and rustled cattle. The children were returning from Maulud programme at Unguwar Al-Kasim village at Dandume. In reaction to the distress call, troops quickly mobilised to the scene, laid ambush and blocked bandits’ route along Daudawa-Kadisau and road Sheme Mairuwa and Unguwar Audu village.
“While patiently waiting for the bandits at the ambush and blocking position, troops established contact with bandits and engaged them. During the fierce battle, troops superior fire power forced bandits to abandon the children and the rustled cattle thereby forcing the bandits to flee in disarray into the forest.
“Troops, thereafter, searched the general area and rescued the 39 kidnapped girls in addition to the recovery of eight rustled cattle. The victims have been reunited with their families while the recovered cattle handed to the owners.
“Troops has dominated the general area with aggressive patrol to forestall further occurrence.”