Gunmen kill over 20 villagers in northern Nigeria

Gunmen have killed more than 20 people in two separate attacks on farming communities in northern Nigeria, officials said Monday, the latest violence to rock the region.

Communities in northwest and central Nigeria have for years suffered attacks by criminal gangs, locally called bandits, who raid villages, steal cattle, kidnap residents for ransom and burn homes after looting them.

Local officials gave different death tolls for the assaults on the Malagum 1 and Sakwong communities in Kaura district on Sunday.

“A total of 28 people were killed in the two attacks, 19 in Malagum1 and nine in Sakwong,” Raymond Ibrahim, the secretary of Kaura district, told AFP.

“These are the figures we recovered and verified in the two communities,” said Ibrahim who visited the two villages.

Atuk Stephen, the political administrator of Kaura district, told the local Channels Television that 37 people were killed by the attackers who burned more than 100 homes and torched several vehicles.

Samuel Aruwan, Kaduna state’s internal affairs commissioner, said the attacks left “several citizens” dead and many houses destroyed.

Aruwan said troops had deployed in the area to apprehend the attackers, without giving a toll.

Kaduna is one of the states hardest hit by criminal elements, with the situation compounded by deadly clashes between nomadic cattle herders and local farmers over grazing and water rights.

Last month 15 people were killed when bandits attacked four communities across three districts in the state.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has been under intense pressure to end the violence before he leaves office after February elections.

There have been growing concerns over increasing collusion between bandits and jihadists from the northeast who are waging a 13-year insurgency to establish a Caliphate.

In May, Kaduna state governor Nasir El-Rufai admitted jihadists from the Islamic State group-affiliated Islamic West Africa Province (ISWAP), and its rival Ansaru linked to Al-Qaeda, were setting up bases in the state.

Gunmen carried out an audacious attack on a train outside Kaduna in March, killing at least eight passengers and kidnapping dozens after attacking the railway with explosives before opening fire.

The government blamed the attack on jihadists, with the complicity of criminals.

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