Around 200 people have been killed in Nigeria’s troubled northern region, according to witnesses, as authorities continue to search for bodies and for suspects of the three-day violence.

Hundreds of motorcycle-riding gunmen rampaged through ten villages in Anka and Bukkuyum districts.
Hundreds of motorcycle-riding gunmen rampaged through ten villages in Anka and Bukkuyum districts. (AP Archive)

An estimated 200 people or more have been killed in villages in Nigeria's Zamfara state during deadly reprisal attacks by armed bandits following military air strikes on their hideouts this week, residents said.

Residents gained access to the villages on Saturday after the military captured the communities to organise mass burials, they told Reuters. 

The state government said 58 people had been killed during the attacks.
Ummaru Makeri, a resident who lost his wife and three children during the attack, said around 154 persons had been buried including several vigilantes who were killed.

Residents said the total death toll was at least 200.

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Bloody attacks

Officials and security agencies have not yet commented on the attacks.

Ibrahim Dosara, Zamfara commissioner for information, told the Associated Press that they were awaiting more information about the incident including the number of casualties.

As of now, a military aircraft has been deployed along with security forces as a manhunt for the attackers continues, he said.

The military said it had conducted air strikes in the early hours of Monday on targets in the Gusami forest and west Tsamre village in Zamfara state, killing more than 100 bandits including two of their leaders, following intelligence reports.

One resident who declined to be identified told Reuters the attacks on the villages could be linked to the military strikes.

Earlier this week, hundreds of motorcycle-riding gunmen rampaged through ten villages in Anka and Bukkuyum districts on Tuesday through Thursday, shooting residents, looting and burning homes, locals said.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack but blame quickly fell on the armed groups who have carried out thousands of abductions and killings in the northwest and central states of the West African nation.

Northwest and central Nigeria have been plagued by criminal gangs for years but violence has become more widespread now.

On Wednesday, the Nigerian government officially labelled bandits as terrorists.

READ MORE: Bandits carry out another deadly attack on village in northwestern Nigeria

Source: TRTWorld and agencies