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Nigeria: Bandit attack leaves 40 dead

May 7, 2018

Armed bandits have attacked a village in Nigeria's Kaduna state, killing at least 40 people. Rural violence across Nigeria is becoming a key issue as President Muhammadu Buhari seeks re-election in 2019.

Police in Kanduna
File photoImage: Getty Images

Kaduna's police commissioner, Austin Iwar, said Sunday that 40 bodies had been recovered around Gwaska village, following an attack on Saturday.

Gwaska lies in a region caught in the grip of what has been portrayed as a battle for resources between nomadic herders and sedentary farmers, who operate vigilante groups.

Iwar said the violence involved "very powerful" [local defense] militias and bandits.

Read more: Opinion — Four more years of Buhari? Nigeria deserves better

Some 200 police officers and 10 patrol vehicles have since been deployed to the community of about 3,000, said Police Inspector General Ibrahim Idris.

A map of Nigeria showing Kaduna state

'Obviously bandits'

A resident who helped fight the bandits told the news agency Agence France-Presse that the "attackers were obviously armed bandits from neighboring Zamfara state."

"The dead included children abandoned by their parents," said the source, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals. "They burnt down many homes."

Another police source quoted by Reuters said at least 45 people had been killed.

Saturday's attack follows two separate incidents last week in Zamfara and Adamawa, where at least 25 people were killed.

Buhari seated inside a passenger wagon with red livery as Nigeria opened the Abuja-Kaduna rail link in July 2016
Buhari announced last month that he was planning to seek a second termImage: DW/U. Musa

Security overstretched

Military and police forces are often overstretched in Nigeria, with Boko Haram jihadis in its northeast, militants and pirates in its oil-rich south and a simmering separatist movement in its east.

The widespread insecurity has become a key issue ahead of the February 2019 presidential election, with  Muhammadu Buhari seeking a second term.

Buhari won office in 2015 on promises to bring security to Africa's most populous nation, but has since been accused of failing to act.

Last month, the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) reported that this year alone in another state, Benue in central Nigeria, 385 people had been killed in rural violence.

ipj/cmk (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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