At least 35 people have been killed in five villages in northwest Nigeria after armed cattle thieves launched brutal attacks in the rural areas, police say.
The deadly attacks were carried out in Zamfara state late Thursday when “Thirty-five people were killed by the bandits in the five villages,” state police spokesman Mohammed Shehu told AFP on Saturday.
According to Shehu, motorcycle-riding gunmen conducted coordinated attacks on remote villages of Gidan Adamu, Tsauni, Gidan Baushi, Gidan Maidawa and Wari in Maradun district, shooting villagers and burning homes.
“The attackers left before security teams arrived because the area is hard to reach due to bad roads,” the police spokesman said.
Survivors, however, raised the death toll up to 43 people.
“We found a total of 43 bodies from the villages along with seven people with injuries,” resident Danladi Sabo said, adding that those killed were buried on Friday while the wounded were taken to hospital in Gusau, the state capital.
Northwest and central Nigeria have often been terrorized by groups of cattle thieves and kidnappers who raid villages, killing and capturing residents as well as stealing livestock after plundering and torching homes.
On Wednesday, thieves killed 18 people when they raided the village of Tsauwa in neighboring Katsina state.
Last month, 53 people lost their lives when bandits attacked six villages in Zamfara’s Zurmi district.
Armed gangs in Nigeria, referred to as “the bandits,” have recently stepped up attacks on villages and schools, kidnapping hundreds of students to receive ransoms from authorities and parents.