Gunmen in Nigeria murdered 11 security agents and numerous villagers after raiding rural communities in the north-central state of Niger, according to the governor, Alhaji Bello.
In recent years, gangs have terrorized portions of northern Nigeria, forcing many to leave and carrying out huge kidnappings for ransom.
The latest attack, which Bello blamed on “terrorists,” occurred on Sunday afternoon in the Shiroro local government region, he claimed.
Last year, local officials reported that suspected Boko Haram members were now present in Shiroro. For more than a decade, the Islamist organization has waged an insurgency in Nigeria’s northeast.
“Over 100 terrorists are alleged to have entered the town in broad daylight, murdering about 11 Joint Security Taskforce personnel, numerous residents, and injuring many,” Bello said, adding that dozens of militants were killed following a battle with security forces.
Dahiur Muhammed, a resident of Shiroro’s Galadiman Kogo hamlet, told Reuters by phone that gunmen on motorcycles stormed three villages and set buildings on fire, killing at least 30 people and kidnapping dozens more.
Several people were fleeing to Niger state capital Minna where there is better security, he said. Niger shares a boundary with the capital Abuja.
President Muhammadu Buhari said earlier this month that the military had begun a major operation in Niger state against bandits and Boko Haram insurgents running from a government offensive in the northeast.
Growing violence and insecurity in Africa’s most populous nation has stretched Nigerian security forces, who are often targeted by militants and armed gangs.