Armed men kidnap 9 in Nigeria’s northwest Zamfara state, say residents

By Ahmed Kingimi

MAIDUGURI (Reuters) – At least nine people were kidnapped in an attack on Friday by gunmen in Nigeria’s northwest Zamfara state, residents said.

Kidnapping for ransom by armed gangs is rife in northwest Nigeria due to high levels of poverty, unemployment and the proliferation of illegal firearms.

The Zamfara police and local government did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment on Friday.

Residents of Tsohuwar Kasuwa community in Kaura Namoda local government area of the state said the gunmen stormed their village in an early morning raid on motorcycles.

“They abducted my two children and they were taken to an unknown destination.” Rabe Sarkawa, a resident of the community, told Reuters by phone. “I am in pain right now.”

Five members of resident Alhaji Sabitu’s household were among those abducted, and his herd of cattle was taken.

“Apart from unrest from the abductions for ransom, and the loss of innocent lives, we’re also not allowed to carry out our daily livelihood in peace,” Sabitu said.

Attacks in the northwest are part of widespread insecurity in Nigeria, with a 14-year Islamist insurgency in the northeast, and gang and separatist violence in the southeast.

Deadly clashes also frequently occur between farmers and herders.

On Wednesday gunmen kidnapped five female students from a university in the neighbouring Katsina state, police said.

President Bola Tinubu is yet to detail a plan to address the widespread insecurity.

Labour unions have criticized Tinubu’s economic reforms, which include removing a costly fuel subsidy and freeing the naira currency, saying they have raised the cost of living.

(Reporting by Ahmed Kingimi; Writing by Elisha Bala-Gbogbo, editing by Deborah Kyvrikosaios)