31st October, 2012
Armed robbers shot dead 20 people on Tuesday in northern Nigeria’s Zamfara state, an area plagued by violent clashes between vigilante and criminal groups, an official said.
“Twenty people were killed today and two others were badly hurt by a gang of bandits in a raid on Kaboro village,” state government spokesman Nuhu Salihu Anka told AFP.
“The bandits stormed the village and began shooting indiscriminately,” he said of the attack in a remote area roughly 120 kilometres (75 miles) from the state capital.
After several people had been killed, the area’s chief appealed to the gunmen to stop firing but they turned their weapons on him instead, according to the spokesman.
“The robbers shot (the chief) dead and then went door to door seizing cash and other valuables before fleeing,” Anka said.
A gang of robbers killed 23 people in the nearby villages of Dan-Gulbi and Guru in June, in a raid where some of the victims’ throats were slit.
The June slaughter was reportedly carried out by gunmen seeking revenge against a community militia.
Locals said at the time that the vigilante force, which had grown tired of repeated robberies in the area, had killed several people they accused of being gang members.
Raids in Zamfara have previously involved scores of attackers. Up to 80 gunmen riding on motorcycles were reported to have carried out the June massacre, while in January, around 100 robbers killed and then burned the bodies of 15 traders as they returned from a market in another state.
Northern Nigeria has also been hit by waves of attacks by radical Islamist group Boko Haram, but the worst violence has been concentrated in the northeast and central north.
Northwestern states like Zamfara have largely been spared by the extremist group and there was no indication that Boko Haram was involved in the latest attack.
Deadly communal and ethnic conflicts often occur in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and largest oil producer with some 160 million people and 250 ethnic groups.
Last month, armed robbers opened fire on a group of people as they left pre-dawn prayers at a mosque in Kaduna state, killing about 20 people.
Those killings were reportedly sparked by an ongoing rivalry between a community protection force and a group of thieves active in the area.
The scale of the violence in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north, including attacks blamed on Boko Haram, has prompted scathing criticism from activists, who accuse President Goodluck Jonathan’s government of failing to protect the population.