Nigeria Gunmen Kill 26, Kidnap Dozens

Gunmen from criminal gangs killed 26 people, including four policemen, and kidnapped dozens more in a raid on a northwestern Nigerian village, the latest in a spate of attacks, police and a local official said.

Katsina is one of several states in northwestern and central Nigeria terrorized by heavily armed gangs, who carry out mass abductions for ransom as well as burning and looting homes.

The gangs, who maintain camps in a huge forest straddling Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna, and Niger states, have also undertaken large-scale kidnappings of pupils from schools in recent years.

The criminals — referred to as bandits by locals — entered Gidan Boka village in Kankara district at around 2100 GMT on Sunday on motorcycles, shooting and abducting residents.

“Bandits attacked Gidan Boka village on Sunday, killing 26 people and abducting dozens of residents, mostly women and children,” Anas Isa, political administrator of Kankara district, told AFP.

“Those killed included policemen and local vigilantes who confronted the bandits,” he said late on Monday.

Isa said his office was still working to ascertain the number of people kidnapped.

Police in Katsina confirmed the attack in a statement late on Monday.

“The armed bandits attacked Gidan Boka village, killing 15 people and injuring two others,” the police statement said.

“They also ambushed our patrol team and killed four police officers… and two members of the Katsina State Community Watch Corps,” it added, referring to a self-defence militia set up by the state to help police.

The criminals also shot dead five residents of nearby Nakwabo village as they were fleeing.

In a statement from his office, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu condemned the “grisly and sinister” attacks and said more would be done to combat armed groups.

Bandits have recently stepped up attacks, particularly in Katsina and Zamfara states.

Last month, the gangs raided four villages in Katsina state’s Sabuwa district, killing 25 people, mostly local vigilantes, in apparent reprisals over military offensives on their hideouts, according to a local official.

Bandits have no ideological leaning and are motivated by financial gain. But analysts and officials have expressed concern over their increasing alliance with jihadists waging a 15-year armed rebellion in the northeast.

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