Some 35 people have been killed in an attack on five villages in Zamfara, police have confirmed.
While local residents said up to 43 villagers were killed in the raid late on Thursday, the Police spokesman in the state, Mohammed Shehu told the suspected bandits only killed 35 people.
It was gathered that motorcycle-riding gunmen launched coordinated attacks on remote villages of Gidan Adamu, Tsauni, Gidan Baushi, Gidan Maidawa and Wari in Maradun district, shooting residents and burning homes.
“The attackers left before security teams arrived because the area is hard to reach due to bad roads,” Shehu said.
But residents said 43 people were killed and seven injured in the attack.
“We found a total of 43 bodies from the villages along with seven people with injuries,” resident Danladi Sabo told AFP.
He said those killed were buried on Friday while the injured were taken to hospital in Gusau, the state capital.
Northwest and central Nigeria have been regularly terrorised by gangs of cattle thieves and kidnappers who raid villages, killing and seizing residents as well as stealing livestock after looting and burning homes.
On Wednesday, bandits killed 18 people when they raided Tsauwa village in neighbouring Katsina state.
Last month, 53 were killed when bandits raided six villages in Zamfara’s Zurmi district.
The gangs are largely motivated by financial gains but some of them have appeared in videos pledging allegiance to jihadists, who are waging a 12-year insurgency to establish an Islamic state.
In a state broadcast last month, Zamfara state Governor Bello Matawalle asked residents to defend themselves against “killer bandits.”
The criminals have recently focused on raiding schools and kidnapping students to squeeze ransom payments from parents and the authorities.
On Monday, more than 100 students were kidnapped from a boarding school in neighbouring Kaduna state, in the latest mass abduction targeting schools in Nigeria.
Around 1,000 students and pupils have been abducted in Nigeria since December. Most have been released after negotiations with local officials.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday directed the military, police and intelligence agencies to ensure the safe and early release of all kidnapped victims, a statement from his office said.
Gangs often target rural schools and colleges where students stay in dormitories and security is light, allowing them to easily remove their victims to forest hideouts to negotiate ransom payments. (AFP)