At least 200 people have been killed in several attacks carried out this week by gunmen in Zamfara state in northwest Nigeria, a government official said on Sunday.
“It is horrible and tragic. More than 200 people have been buried (…) because of the invasion of bandits”, declared the spokesperson of Sadiya Umar Farouq, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs.
“We are also worried about the displaced people who are fleeing their communities by the hundreds,” the minister added in a statement released on Saturday evening.
“More than 10,000 victims were also left homeless after their homes were razed by the bandits while dozens (other people) are still missing,” he added.
On Saturday, four residents told AFP that at least 140 people were killed by gunmen, known locally as “bandits”.
“We buried a total of 143 people killed by the bandits in these attacks,” said one of these residents, Balarabe Alhaji, head of one of the villages affected by the attacks in Zamfara state.
Hundreds of armed men who arrived on motorcycles launched attacks in ten villages in Anka and Bukkuyum districts from Wednesday to Thursday, shooting at residents, looting and burning houses, residents said.
A resident of Kurfa Danya village, Babandi Hamidu, said the men shot on “sight” at anyone they saw in the village.
These four residents said they attended the funerals of the victims in their respective villages.
North-west and central Nigeria have for several years been the scene of the activities of criminal gangs, who attack, loot and kidnap villagers, stealing their cattle and burning their homes.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday condemned these attacks perpetrated according to him by “mass murderers” who terrorize the populations of rural northwestern Nigeria without however reporting a record.
On Wednesday, the government officially branded the “bandits” operating in Nigeria as “terrorists” in order to toughen sanctions against perpetrators, their informants and their supporters.
The Nigerian armed forces said this week that they have killed 537 “armed bandits and other criminal elements” and arrested 374 others in the northwest since May 2020, while 452 “abducted civilians have been rescued”.