Armed bandits have killed at least 30 people in raids on two villages in northwestern Nigeria.
Gambo Isah, a spokesman for police in Nigeria’s northwestern state of Katsina, said on Sunday that dozens of gunmen on motorcycles had attacked the villages of Tsauwa and Dankar on Friday.
“The bandits killed 21 people in Tsauwa and another nine in nearby Dankar,” media outlets quoted the spokesman as saying. “Most of those killed were old people and children who couldn’t escape.”
Isah said police and military forces were deployed in the area after the attack and detained one suspect.
Tukur Mu’azu, the traditional chief of Batsari, a district that straddles the two villages attacked, said the assailants burnt homes, livestock, and food supplies before fleeing.
“I have never seen such destruction in my life,” the local leader said as he attended the burial of the victims.
Hundreds of people have been killed in Nigeria’s northwest since last year in attacks that the Abuja government attributes to gangs of cattle thieves and kidnappers abducting people for ransom.
Rural communities in Katsina, President Muhammadu Buhari’s home region, have frequently been targeted by such gangs and bandits. The gangs launch assaults from their hideouts in a vast forest straddling Katsina and several neighboring states. Residents across the affected areas have clubbed together to fill the security void by forming self-defense groups.
On Tuesday, an armed gang burnt to death 21 people, including 16 members of a single family, in a reprisal raid in neighboring Kaduna State to avenge a vigilante attack on their hideout.
The death toll from violence continues to rise in Nigeria, along with instances of kidnapping and robbery.
Security experts say Nigeria can ill afford more instability as it is already struggling to contain insurgencies by Takfiri terrorists in the northeast, conflicts in central states, and militant groups in the Niger Delta to the southeast.