Gunmen from gangs known for kidnapping and cattle rustling kill at least 19 people in Birnin Gwari and Kajuru villages in Kaduna state, officials say.
Armed men have raided two villages in northwest Nigeria's Kaduna state, killing at least 19 people, in the latest violence to hit the region.
"Kaduna state government has received reports from security agencies of the killing of 19 citizens in Birnin Gwari and Kajuru local government areas," Samuel Aruwan, internal affairs commissioner said in a statement on Monday.
"The citizens were killed by armed bandits at Kutemeshi village in Birnin Gwari and Kujeni village in Kajuru, where several others were left with bullet wounds," Aruwan said.
Gunmen from kidnapping and cattle rustling gangs — called bandits by locals — often raid villages in northwest Nigeria, stealing cattle, kidnapping for ransom, and burning homes after looting supplies.
Late on Saturday, bandits riding on motorcycles killed 14 people and injured others when they invaded Kutemeshi where they looted shops, the official said.
On the same day, motorbike-riding gunmen also stormed Kujeni where they killed five people and burnt "several" houses, warehouses, and church, said Aruwan in the statement.
But residents said 19 people were killed just in the raid in Kutemeshi.
"We lost 19 people in the attack. We buried them yesterday (Sunday)," said Kutemeshi resident Ayuba Abdullahi.
Thousands killed since 2011
Last month bandits killed 12 people and kidnapped 30 others in attacks on three villages in Birnin Gwari district and neighbouring Katsina state.
Kidnapping and cattle rustling gangs maintain camps in the Rugu forest straddling Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara, and Niger states.
The gangs have no ideological leanings but there are concerns that the gangs may be gradually infiltrated by militants from the northeast.
Violence across the northwest has killed 8,000 people since 2011 and displaced more than 200,000, some into neighbouring Niger, according to a report last year by the International Crisis Group.