Onuminya Innocent in Sokoto
At least 150 people, including women and children, were said to have been abducted with one person killed in a coordinated attack by gunmen on four villages in Zamfara State, residents said yesterday.
Kidnapping for ransom has become rife in the North-west in recent years with bandits targeting villages, schools, and travellers, demanding millions of naira in ransom and making it unsafe to travel by road or to farm in some areas.
The state police command spokesperson did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment on the attack, which took place late on Friday.
But the residents told Reuters that gunmen on dozens of motorcycles stormed the villages of Mutunji, Kwanar-Dutse, Sabon-Garin Mahuta, and Unguwar Kawo in the Maru Local Government Area (LGA) of the state.
A resident of one of the villages, Dankandai Musa, told Reuters he managed to slip away unnoticed during the chaos, adding that 20 members of his household were taken.
“I managed to escape after they were regrouping us and the people from the three other villages that were attacked,” he said. “I fled while they were dragging us to the bush.”
A local village head said the leader of the gunmen, Lawali Damana, had demanded N100 million from the villages as retribution after Nigerian troops killed four of his men earlier.
“So, yesterday, he came in the company of his boys and took away over a hundred people with him and we haven’t heard anything from him since. One person was shot dead in the process of taking the hostages,” said the village head, who didn’t want to be named for fear of being targeted.
Nigeria faces numerous security challenges, including a 14-year Islamist insurgency in its North-east, separatist violence in the South-east, and frequent deadly clashes between farmers and herders in the central region.
His economic reforms, including the removal of a costly petrol subsidy and freeing the naira currency, have led to a sharp increase in the cost of living, angering citizens.