Bandits on Motorcycles in Nigeria Killing Indiscriminately

Bandits on Motorcycles in Nigeria Killing Indiscriminately
Silhouette of an armed bandit. | Image from Global News

The death toll continues to grow in Nigeria’s north-western Zamfara following attacks by bandits with firearms over the last week, BBC reports.

Survivors told the news network that gangsters on motorcycles attacked villages one by one, shooting indiscriminately.

Ummaru Makeri lost his wife and three children during the attack, and said around 154 people had been buried. Residents said the total death toll was at least 200, Reuters reports.

According to Reuters, the attacks are believed to be retaliation for military airstrikes on Monday that drove some of the criminal gangs out of their forest hideouts. The groups have terrorized Zamfara and neighboring states for several years.

These gangs, known as bandits in the area, are allegedly sophisticated criminal networks that operate across large swaths of land, stealing animals, kidnapping for ransom, and killing those who confront them.

Earlier this week, the government designated the bandits as terrorists, allowing security forces to impose harsher sanctions on the groups and their supporters.

It was reported that 300 gunmen on motorcycles arrived in as many as nine communities between Tuesday and Thursday night. Initial estimates on Friday state that the suspected bandit militants killed more than 100 people.

During the assaults, gunmen set fire to homes and mutilated the bodies of their victims. The attackers reportedly stole around two thousand cattle, according to villager Idi Musa and the AFP News Agency.

According to local media, the armed groups behind the attacks appeared to be on the move, heading towards Zamfara’s western region after abandoning hideouts in forested areas in response to the alleged government attacks.

More than 200 people have been buried, according to a spokesperson for Humanitarian Affairs Minister Sadiya Umar Farouq. The minister also confirmed that over 10,000 people had been displaced, with many more still unaccounted for.

Meanwhile, officials in the neighboring state of Kebbi said bandits had released 30 more schoolchildren and one teacher who had been held captive for six months. It’s unclear whether they were released after a ransom was paid, according to Reuters.

Kidnappers abducted 102 students and eight teachers from a school in Birnin Kebbi in June. Last year, an unspecified number of children were released after their parents negotiated with the captors.

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