A criminal gang has kidnapped 25 villagers in two separate incidents in central Nigeria’s Niger state, an area notorious for banditry and abductions, a local official said on Tuesday.
Dozens of gunmen, known locally as bandits, sneaked into Kutunku village in Wushishi district around 0030 GMT on Monday while residents were asleep and abducted 24 people, Ismail Modibbo Kagara, political administrator in charge of the area, told AFP.
“The bandits moved house to house, stealing from their victims before taking 24 people along with them,” he said. “They then went to neighboring Adidi village where they kidnapped a resident.”
Kagara said the gunmen left their motorcycles outside Kutunku and walked into the village so as not to alert residents.
The police were not immediately available to comment on the incidents.
Last week, 18 travelers were abducted in the area when their vehicles were stopped at a bogus checkpoint mounted by bandits.
Last month, 42 people, including 27 students, were abducted from a boarding school in nearby Kagara.
Central and northwest Nigeria are increasingly becoming hubs of criminal gangs of cattle thieves and kidnappers who raid villages, killing and abducting residents after looting and burning homes.
The gangs, who are driven by financial motives, have no ideological leanings but there is growing concern they are being infiltrated by jihadists from the northeast waging more than a decade-old insurrection to establish an Islamic state.