Sunday, 26 November 2023 04:54

Gunmen kill one, kidnap at least 150 in Zamfara, residents say

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At least 150 people, including women and children, were abducted with one person killed in a coordinated attack by gunmen on four villages in Nigeria's northwest Zamfara state, residents said on Saturday.

Kidnapping for ransom has become rife in northwestern Nigeria in recent years where armed gangs, often referred to locally as bandits, have targeted villages, schools, and travellers, demanding millions of naira in ransom and making it unsafe to travel by road or to farm in some areas.

The Zamfara police spokesperson did not immediately respond to Reuters' request for comment on the attack, which took place late on Friday.

Residents told Reuters that gunmen on dozens of motorcycles stormed the villages of Mutunji, Kwanar-Dutse, Sabon-Garin Mahuta and Unguwar Kawo in the Maru local government area of the state.

Dankandai Musa, a resident of one of the villages, told Reuters he managed to slip away unnoticed during the chaos. But 20 members of his household were taken.

"I managed to escape after they were regrouping us and the people from the three other villages that were attacked," he said. "I fled while they were dragging us to the bush."

A local village head said Lawali Damana, leader of the gunmen, had demanded 100 million naira ($119,000) from the villages as retribution after Nigerian troops killed four of his men earlier.

"So yesterday, he came in the company of his boys and took away over a hundred people with him and we haven't heard anything from him since. One person was shot dead in the process of taking the hostages," said the village head, who didn't want to be named for fear of being targeted.

Nigeria faces numerous security challenges, including a 14-year Islamist insurgency in its northeast, separatist violence in the southeast, and frequent deadly clashes between farmers and herders in the central region.

President Bola Tinubu has yet to detail how he will tackle the insecurity. His economic reforms, including the removal of petrol subsidy and devaluation of the naira, have led to a sharp increase in the cost of living, angering citizens.



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