Cattle thieves kill 66 villagers in Nigeria | Nigeria

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A gang of cattle thieves killed 66 people in raids on seven villages in Kebbi state, northwest Nigeria, police said.

Dozens of motorcycle attackers attacked seven neighboring villages in the Danko-Wasagu district on Thursday, Kebbi state police spokesman Nafiu Abubakar told AFP on Saturday.

“We have established that 66 people were killed in the attacks,” which targeted the villages of Koro, Kimpi, Gaya, Dimi, Zutu, Rafin Gora and Iguenge, Abubakar said.

“The investigation is still ongoing to determine the extent of the destruction caused by the bandits and the search for other bodies is still ongoing,” he added.

Police have been deployed to the area to prevent further attacks as residents of affected villages fled their homes, Abubakar said.

The attackers reportedly launched the attacks from neighboring states of Zamfara or Niger, where criminals are known to maintain camps.

In April, nine police officers were killed in the area in a shootout with gunmen who invaded a village in neighboring Sakaba district to steal livestock, Abubakar told AFP at the time.

Northwest and central Nigeria is a hub for criminal cattle-thieving gangs that attack villages, killing and kidnapping residents for ransom after looting and burning houses.

The gangs, called bandits by locals, maintain camps in the Rugu Forest which straddles the states of Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna and Niger.

Driven by financial motives, the gangs have no ideological leanings – but there is growing concern that they are being infiltrated by jihadists from the northeast who are waging a 12-year-old insurgency to establish an Islamic state.

Gangs have recently stepped up attacks on schools, kidnapping hundreds of students to obtain ransoms from authorities and parents.



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