At least 50 people were killed in multiple assaults by armed ‘bandits’ on towns in an area of northern Nigeria rife with cattle theft and kidnappings, local officials said Monday.
Sources said around 100 armed assailants raged into the towns of Kerawa, Zareyawa and Minda in Kaduna state at day break on Sunday, gunning down worshippers as they left a mosque for morning petitions before killing residents, burning and looting homes.
“So far 50 bodies have been recovered yet the figure isn’t conclusive and is probably going to rise as rescue efforts are still under way,” Zayyad Ibrahim, a lawmaker in the Nigerian parliament, told AFP on Monday.
Several people were harmed in the assaults and were taken to nearby hospitals clinics Ibrahim said.
The assaults were in reprisal for villagers purportedly helping recent army operations against the alleged bandits in their forest hideouts, local counselor Dayyabu Kerawa told AFP.
“The bandits accused residents from the targeted towns of providing information about their hideouts to the military,” said Kerawa.
“We buried 51 victims yesterday (Sunday) afternoon,” Kerawa said.
Kaduna police spokesman Mohammed Jalige said authorities were investigating the assaults.
Violence has taken off in northwest Nigeria lately as criminal gangs involved in cattle rustling and kidnapping have carried out bloody attacks on towns.
The groups assault from attack in nearby forests exploiting a lack of security across the region.
The Birnin Gwari and Giwa districts of Kaduna state have been hit by violence and repeated reprisal assaults among bandits and local vigilante groups.
Security forces in February announced a sweeping operation aimed at armed areas in the area.
A month ago 21 people, including 16 members of one family, were killed when bandits assaulted a town in a reprisal assault.
Authorities in several states in northwest Nigeria have sought for harmony deals the bandits to stop the gore however these have failed to end the instability.