At least 31 people have been killed in Nigeria in three deadly separate attacks by criminal groups, residents told AFP on Thursday.
On Wednesday men on motorcycles invaded the village of Damaga in Zamfara state in the northwest.
“The bandits arrived around 1:00 am and started shooting indiscriminately. They killed thirteen people,” villager Ayuba Musa said.
These armed men “stole cows, sheep and goats, they did not even spare the chickens,” he added.
The shooting caused panic in the village, where middle school students immediately fled their classrooms for fear of being kidnapped, another resident told AFP.
For the past ten years or so, criminal groups, called “bandits” by the authorities, have terrorised the populations of northwestern and central Nigeria.
They attack villages, steal livestock and kidnap local personalities or travelers for ransom from the roads.
In recent months, they have stepped up attacks on schools, causing turmoil around the world.
In less than three months, four mass kidnappings of students took place in these poor and rural areas of Nigeria.
In February, almost 300 girls were abducted from a school in Zamfara state and later released.
A criminal group on Wednesday also attacked the village of Osewu in central Nasarawa state, killing 17 people, including a local chief.
“They attacked the villagers with machetes and killed 17 people,” villager Idris Habibu told AFP.
The criminals were “very numerous” and the local militiamen, in charge of protecting the communities of these gangs, “could not do anything”, according to him.
“The attackers came with guns, but they attacked the villagers with machetes,” said another resident, Abdullahi Omeiza, confirming the number of people killed.
On Tuesday, a criminal gang killed one person and injured 18 others in the attack on the village of Kapana, in the district of Munya, central Niger state.
“We lost one person in the attack by the bandits and 18 others were shot and wounded,” Andrew Danjuma Jagaba, a member of parliament from that state, told AFP.
Contacted by AFP, the police in these states could not be reached on Thursday afternoon to confirm these attacks.
Faced with the insecurity that plagues the North West, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is under pressure.
During a meeting in Abuja on Thursday, the president said he asked army officials to strike “harder” to crack down on crime in the region.
“Anyone carrying an AK-47 (a Kalashnikov) must be shot,” he threatened, according to a presidential statement.
The Nigerian army has been operating in these regions since 2016, but its priority remains the northeast of the country, which has been in the throes of a jihadist rebellion since 2009.
On Tuesday, the governor of the state of Zamfara said that 6,000 additional troops would soon be deployed, but the presidency and the army then said they were not aware.