Police in northwest Nigeria said gunmen from gangs of cattle thieves on Sunday killed 16 people in an attack on a remote village, in the latest raid by the militants in the region.
Northwest and central Nigeria are a hub of criminal gangs of cattle thieves and those kidnapping for ransom who raid villages, killing and abducting residents after looting and burning homes.
The criminals who are known as bandits and who maintain camps in a vast forest, straddling Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna, and Niger states have recently intensified mass abductions of students in schools for ransom.
Dozens of bandits on motorcycles invaded Ganar-Kiyawa village in Bukkuyum district, shooting dead 16 residents, according to Mohammed Shehu, the Zamfara state police spokesman.
“The terrorists killed 16 people in the attack and fled before the deployment of police personnel,” Shehu said Monday.
“The police and the military are in the area to forestall further attacks and pursue the bandits.”
A statement from the Zamfara state governor’s office confirmed the attack, saying “many lives were reportedly lost and many others got injured”, without giving details.
However, local media put the death toll as high as 37, including the village chief, with dozens kidnapped from the village which has been repeatedly targeted by the gangs.
The gangs which have officially been declared terrorists continue to attack villages and abduct travelers at bogus checkpoints on highways despite the deployment of troops and government amnesty.
On Sunday Ibrahim Dosara, Zamfara State information commissioner, said bandit attacks in the state have displaced more than 700,000, prompting the state government to open eight camps to accommodate them.