Gunmen killed 32 people and razed dozens of houses in the latest attacks in Nigeria’s volatile northwestern state of Kaduna, local authorities said Thursday.
Heavily-armed criminal gangs known as bandits in northwest and central Nigeria have raided villages to kidnap or kill residents for years but have become increasingly brazen.
In recent months, they have attacked a passenger train between the capital Abuja and Kaduna city and kidnapped dozens, massacred more than 100 villagers, and killed a dozen members of vigilante groups.
On Sunday, “bandits attacked the villages of Dogon Noma, Ungwan Sarki, and Ungwan Maikori in Kajuru local government area,” the state security commissioner Samuel Aruwan said in a statement.
He said they “stormed the area in large numbers on motorcycles, and proceeded to raze several houses, as they attacked and killed locals”.
The gunmen attacked the first two locations and killed 31 citizens. “They then headed into Ungwan Maikori, where they killed one person and burnt some houses,” said Aruwan.
Security forces dispatched a helicopter which engaged the bandits before the arrival of ground troops, he added.
According to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), such armed bandits killed 2,600 civilians in 2021, an increase of 250 percent from 2020.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, a former army general, has been under pressure to end the deadly violence before he leaves office next year at the end of his two terms in power.