Gunmen have attacked a village in northwest Nigeria, killing at least 50 people, according to residents, as armed gangs continue to wreak havoc in the restive African country.
Abdullahi Karman Unashi, a local resident, told Reuters on Sunday that dozens of gunmen on motorcycles had raided Dankade village in the country’s northern Kebbi state on Friday night and exchanged gunfire with police and military forces in the area.
However, he said, military forces were forced to retreat in the early hours of Saturday, leaving the armed “bandits” to burn shops, homes and grain silos and take cattle.
"They killed two soldiers and one police officer and 50 villagers. (They) kidnapped the community leader of Dankade and many villagers, mostly women and children," Karman said.
Didzi Umar Bunu, son of the abducted community leader, said the assailants had returned early on Sunday and torched more houses.
"They have not called or made any ransom demand. Dankade village is littered with dead bodies," he said on the phone.
Nafiu Abubakar, police spokesperson for Kebbi, did not respond to phone calls seeking comment.
The latest development comes a week after armed criminal gangs killed at least 200 people in attacks on villages in the nearby northwestern Nigerian state of Zamfara, following military air strikes on their hideouts.
Northwest Nigeria has seen a sharp rise in mass abductions as well as other violent crimes since late 2020 as the government struggles to maintain law and order.
Criminal gangs have terrorized northwestern and central Nigeria for years, but they have become more brazen in recent months.
The armed gangs across the violence-wracked region repetitively terrorize inhabitants by looting villages, stealing cattle, and taking people hostage. More than 800 students and school children have been abducted in Nigeria for ransom by armed groups since December 2020 alone.
More than 30,000 people have been killed in over a decade of terrorism in Nigeria instigated by the Boko Haram Takfiri group. The reign of terror has spilled over into neighboring Chad, Niger, and Cameroon and has forced more than two million people to flee their homes.
Nigerian troops are fighting a 12-year militancy by Boko Haram in the northeast, herder-farmer tensions and banditry in the northwest, and separatist agitations in the southeast.
President Muhammadu Buhari has come under fire for the worsening security situation in several regions of Nigeria.