KANO, Nigeria (AFP) – Gunmen have killed at least 57 members of a local self-defence vigilante group in clashes in northwestern Nigeria, a security source and local residents said yesterday.
The attack was the latest involving heavily armed criminal gangs known locally as bandits who raid and loot villages, steal cattle and carry out mass kidnappings for ransom across northwest Nigeria.
Police confirmed Monday’s violence in Zuru district of Kebbi State, without giving a casualty figure. But the security source said 57 bodies had been recovered while two local residents said 62 people were killed.
Local residents often form informal vigilante units, known as Yansakai to protect villages from bandit raids, though some states banned them after they were accused of abuses and
“There was an incident involving Yansakai and bandits which left several dead on both sides,” Kebbi state police spokesman Nafiu Abubakar told AFP.
“We don’t have a specific toll yet, we are still compiling fatality figures.”
Northwest and central Nigeria are a hub of criminal gangs which maintain camps in Rugu forest, straddling Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna and Niger states.