Motorcycle-riding gunmen launch coordinated attacks on five villages in northwest Zamfara state, shooting residents and burning homes, police and locals say.

Northwest and central Nigeria have been regularly terrorised by gangs of cattle thieves and kidnappers who raid villages, killing and seizing residents.
Northwest and central Nigeria have been regularly terrorised by gangs of cattle thieves and kidnappers who raid villages, killing and seizing residents. (Reuters Archive)

Armed cattle thieves have killed at least 35 people in five villages in northwest Nigeria's Zamfara state, police said, in the latest violence in the restive region.

"Thirty-five people were killed by the bandits in the five villages," state police spokesman Mohammed Shehu said on Saturday.

Local residents however said up to 43 villagers were killed in the attack late on Thursday.

READ MORE: Bandits in northern Nigeria kill at least 21 people

Coordinated attacks in multiple villages

Motorcycle-riding gunmen launched coordinated attacks on remote villages of Gidan Adamu, Tsauni, Gidan Baushi, Gidan Maidawa, and Wari in Maradun district, shooting residents and burning homes.

"The attackers left before security teams arrived because the area is hard to reach due to bad roads," Shehu said.

But residents said 43 people were killed and seven wounded in the attack.

"We found a total of 43 bodies from the villages along with seven people with injuries," resident Danladi Sabo said.

He said those killed were buried on Friday while the wounded were taken to hospital in Gusau, the state capital.

READ MORE: Dozens of students kidnapped in northwest Nigeria

Violence by armed gangs

Northwest and central Nigeria have been regularly terrorised by gangs of cattle thieves and kidnappers who raid villages, killing and seizing residents as well as stealing livestock after looting and burning homes.

On Wednesday, bandits killed 18 people when they raided Tsauwa village in neighbouring Katsina state.

Last month, 53 were killed when bandits raided six villages in Zamfara's Zurmi district.

The gangs are largely motivated by financial gains but some of them have appeared in videos pledging allegiance to militants, who are waging a 12-year-old insurgency.

Military operations and amnesty offers have failed to end the attacks.

READ MORE: Gunmen kill dozens of villagers in Nigeria's restive northern region

More than 100 students kidnapped

In a state broadcast last month, Zamfara state governor Bello Matawalle asked residents to defend themselves against "killer bandits."

The criminals have recently focused on raiding schools and kidnapping students to squeeze ransom payments from parents and the authorities.

On Monday, more than 100 students were kidnapped from a boarding school in neighbouring Kaduna state, in the latest mass abduction targeting schools in Nigeria.

Source: AFP