Gunmen on motorbikes killed 43 people in waves of attacks in Sokoto state, police said Monday.
The killings became the latest violence by criminal gangs raiding villages and stealing livestock.
The series of attacks, carried out overnight Saturday to Sunday in the state, saw the gangs ride out from forest hideouts, speeding into villages and shooting sporadically.
“They opened fire on the village indiscriminately,” said Abdullahi Dantani, from the village of Satiru, where 18 people were murdered.
Also in Rabah district, gunmen rode into four villages— Rukunni, Tsage, Giire and Kalfu — massacring 25 people.
“Twenty-five people were killed,” said Ibrahim Kaoje, Sokoto state’s top police officer. “Several domestic animals were rustled by the attackers.”
Kaoje said four people were arrested in connection to those attacks, “including a female informant of the gangs, who disguised as a mad woman.”
In a separate wave of attacks in Satiru village, in Sokoto’s Isa district, the raiders shot 18 people, and then stole animals.
“We lost 18 people in the raid by the gunmen, who came into the village on motorcycles,” said Satiru village resident Umeh Na-Ta’ala.
The gangs have long been a scourge of rural communities in northern Nigeria, raiding villages, stealing cattle, burning homes, looting food, and kidnapping for ransom.
In a late Sunday statement, President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the killings, expressing his “deep shock and sadness over the death of scores of people in the banditry attacks.”
“Perpetrators and sponsors of such dastardly acts (will) be held accountable,” Buhari said. AFP
Gunmen hit Niger communities
In a related development, gunmen reportedly killed no fewer than 12 people and injured 15 others in an attack on three villages in Kwaki-Chikuba ward in Shiroro local government of Niger state.
The gunmen were said to have invaded Sunday the communities of Ajatayi, Gwassa, and Barden Dawaki after laying siege to Gyammamiya and Alewa communities in the past four days, thus displacing thousands of villagers who fled for safety.
Eyewitness account said villagers, including women around Kwaki area were seen moving in droves fleeing to avoid the bandits who have continued to wreak havoc on the residents.
Our correspondent also gathered that over 525 cows were rustled by the bandits as their operation spread to other villages
Speaking to our correspondent in Minna, the senator representing Niger East Senatorial District, David Umoru, in whose constituency the attack occurred, expressed shock over the calamity that befell his people.
“I have been receiving distress calls in the past three days from my people on the armed attack in the area. I am very sad about the continued invasion of our communities and the waste of innocent lives with impunity while security appeared to be overwhelmed,” he said.
He called on security agencies, especially the police and military to deploy more personnel to the area to save the lives of helpless villagers now living in perpetual fear of the unknown.
Umoru also called on National Emergency Management Agency to provide relief materials to the victims
However, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the Niger state police command, DSP Mohammed Abubakar confirmed that one person was killed while 15 others were injured in the attack.
He said the gunmen were cattle rustlers who had rustled cows that refused to move.
The police spokesman further said the hoodlums resorted to attacking anybody that comes close in the believe that they were coming for them.
He explained that the incident occurred in Ajapayi via Kwaki village in Shiroro local government, a very difficult terrain not accessible even with motorcycle.
Abubakar, however, said the police were on top of the situation.
“We are trailing the perpetrators and will surely arrest them and made them to face the wrath of the law. The DPO of the area has led a contingent of police men including mobile policemen to the area”.