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At least 88 villagers died in an attack perpetrated Thursday by a criminal group, amid cattle theft, in northwestern Nigeria. These attacks, some of which target schoolchildren, are increasing in the region.
An attack on seven villages in the northwest of Nigeria by dozens of cattle thieves on Thursday, June 3, left at least 88 dead, according to a new report announced Sunday, June 6 by the police.
“Initially 66 bodies were found but 22 more were found,” Kebbi state police spokesman Nafiu Abubakar told AFP. Many residents are still missing and the toll could increase, he said, adding that research was continuing.
The motorcycle attackers targeted the villages of Koro, Kimpi, Gaya, Dimi, Zutu, Rafin Gora and Iguenge in the district of Danko-Wasagu on Thursday, the spokesman said on Saturday.
Police officers were deployed in the region to prevent further attacks from this criminal group, while residents of the attacked villages fled their homes, he said.
Criminal groups close to jihadists
In April, nine police officers were killed in this area in a shootout with armed men who had entered a village in Sakaba district to steal cattle. This time, the attackers were likely from neighboring states of Zamfara or Niger, according to police.
For the past ten years or so, criminal groups, called “bandits” by the authorities, have terrorized the populations of northwestern and central Nigeria. They attack villages, steal cattle and kidnap local personalities or travelers for ransom from the roads.
They operate from camps located in the Rugu Forest which spans the Nigerian states of Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna and Niger.
These bandits are first motivated by greed, even if some have pledged allegiance to jihadist groups present in northeastern Nigeria, hundreds of kilometers away. Recently, these criminal groups have embarked on attacks targeting schools and universities, carrying out mass kidnappings of students for ransom.