The national flag of Nigeria. | Photo credit: Getty Images
Gunmen have killed 16 people and injured nine others in a village in northwest Nigeria near the Niger border, a local official and a resident said on Friday.
The pre-dawn attack on the village of Tara, Sokoto state, is the latest in a series of attacks by criminal gangs known locally as “bandits” that have terrorized, killing, looting and kidnapping communities for years.
“The armed men came on motorcycles and opened fire on the village,” said Lawwali Umeh, a resident.
“We buried 16 bodies this afternoon. Nine more are seriously injured,” added Umeh.
An official from the region, Saidu Naino Ibrahim, confirmed the death toll and said the injured were being treated at a hospital.
“The attackers took away more than 100 cows,” he added.
Legislators said the bandits came from Dogon Zango in the neighboring state of Zamfara.
Bandits are known to operate from camps in the Rugu Forest, which stretches across the states of Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna and Niger.
The Nigerian military, stationed in the region in 2016, and a peace deal with some bandits were signed in 2019, but attacks continued.
“The bandits raided villages in the area … moved from village to village, killed and looted,” Ibrahim said.
“We don’t know which village will be attacked next,” the resident worried.
Police confirmed in a statement that there was an attack by bandits in Tara, without giving details.
On Tuesday, the UN refugee agency warned that “the increasing violence in northwestern Nigeria … has fueled displacement to neighboring Niger”.
More than 7,660 refugees – mostly women and children – have fled Nigeria to Maradi since January alone, UNHCR said.