More than 40 people have been killed in clashes between gunmen and vigilantes in Nigeria’s northern Katsina state, the latest violence ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections.
Katsina state police spokesperson Gambo Isah said on Friday that an armed gang, known locally as bandits, attacked a village in Katsina’s Bakori local government area and had rustled cattle and sheep before fleeing into the bush.
A local vigilante group mobilised and pursued the gunmen, which led to the deadly clash and large loss of life on Thursday, the spokesperson said.
“A joint security operation is currently ongoing with a view to bringing the perpetrators to book,” Isah said.
Katsina is one of the northern states hardest hit by armed gangs who attack and kidnap people from villages and highways in remote parts of the region where security forces are stretched.
Lack of security has become widespread and is a key concern for voters ahead of the February 25 election to choose new members of parliament and a successor to President Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler who came to power eight years ago promising to end insecurity.
Two security sources put the death toll in Katsina at 50. The bodies of those killed were recovered on Friday from the bush. Those injured in the clashes were taken to Kankara hospital in the state, the sources said.
Katsina special adviser on security Ibrahim Ahmed said communities were discouraged from taking the law into their own hands through vigilantism as it would lead to deadly consequences.