Armed gang strikes in north-west Nigeria

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An armed gang killed at least 18 people in the north-west Nigerian state Katsina, police and residents said, as unrest spreads across the region and into the president’s home state.

Hundreds died in Nigeria’s north-west since the start of the year in attacks government attributes to bandits, a loose term for gangs of outlaws carrying out robberies and kidnappings.

Despite military and police operations the death toll continues to rise, along with incidents of kidnapping and robbery.

Security experts say Nigeria can ill afford more instability with the country struggling to contain Islamist insurgencies in the north-east, pastoral conflict in central states and militant groups in the Niger Delta.

In the latest incident, bandits attacked farmers at Yar Gamji village, near the Niger border, on Tuesday killing 18, police said.

The attackers escaped into a nearby forest, police said in a statement.

Residents said 18 bodies were found, many more were feared dead.

“We are at the Emir’s palace for the mass burial of our relatives, but more than 18 people were killed in this attack,” said Hassan Ibrahim, whose brother was killed.

“There is no peace in Katsina,” he said. “Almost every day they carry out attacks on villagers, killing innocent people.”