By Ahmed Kingimi
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (Reuters) – At least 50 people, including women and children, were abducted and three others were killed in an attack by gunmen in Bagega, a mining village in Nigeria’s northwest Zamfara state, residents said on Tuesday.
Kidnapping for ransom has become commonplace in northwestern Nigeria in recent years where armed gangs, often referred to locally as bandits, have targeted villages, schools, and travelers, demanding millions of naira in ransom and making it unsafe to travel by road or to farm in some areas.
The Zamfara police spokesperson did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment on the attack, which took place on Monday.
Residents told Reuters the gunmen had stormed the village on motorcycles, shooting indiscriminately and setting houses ablaze. Seven people were also injured in the attack.
The district head was among at least 50 people kidnapped, Mallam Abubakar, the village chief, said by phone on Tuesday.
Bello Yahaya, whose father was abducted, said three people were killed and two policemen were shot and wounded while trying to fend off the attackers.
“The injured officers, along with the other individuals who suffered various degrees of gunshot wounds, are currently receiving medical treatment while two critically injured victims have been referred to the Federal Medical Centre in Gusau,” Yahaya said. Gusau is the state capital.
“As I speak with you now, an unspecified number of people have been abducted. There is panic and widespread fear among our people,” Ismail Badamasi, a resident who managed to escape the assault, told Reuters by phone.
Nigeria faces numerous security challenges, including a 14-year Islamist insurgency in its northeast, separatist violence in the southeast, and frequent deadly clashes between farmers and herders in the central region.
President Bola Tinubu has yet to detail how he will tackle the insecurity. 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.
(Reporting by Ahmed Kingimi; Writing by Elisha Bala-Gbogbo; Editing by Gareth Jones)