Armed men killed at least 18 people and set ablaze cars and shops in Nigeria’s Zamfara state, where the government has imposed a telecoms blackout as part of a security operation against groups of kidnappers, two residents said on Wednesday.
Northwest Nigeria has been engulfed in crisis since late 2020, when groups of armed men began a spate of mass abductions from schools and other violent attacks on villages and on people travelling by road.
Two residents said the attack on Kuryan Madaro village in Zamfara happened around 9 p.m. on Tuesday when a dozens of bandits rode into the village on motor-bikes.
Abubakar Yakubu a resident of Kuryan Madaro who had travelled to neighbouring Kebbi state told Reuters by phone that the men had shot sporadically, forcing villagers to flee.
Abubakar Abdullahi Alhassan, a lecturer at Kebbi State Polytechnic who has relatives in Zamfara, confirmed the attack.
“Many other people obtained various degrees of injuries as the result of this attack,” said Alhassan said.
Zamfara state police spokesman Muhammed Shehu could not be reached for comment after repeated calls to his mobile phone.
Alhassan shared pictures of the burial of some of the people said to have died during the attack but Reuters could not independently verify them.
Zamfara State is among states worst hit by kidnappings and is under a telecoms blockade since early September, which authorities said they imposed to disrupt coordination among the bandits and help the armed forces to tackle them.
But that has also meant few people know what is going on in Zamfara as authorities are not forthcoming with information on their operations.