Suspected cattle thieves kill 37 in Nigeria: local gov’t

Kano (Nigeria) (AFP) – Gunmen suspected of being cattle thieves killed at least 37 people in a village in northern Nigeria’s Zamfara state, a local government official said Monday.

“The gunmen killed 37 people in the attack on Cigama village shortly after they attacked Kokeya village where they killed two people,” Muhammad Bala Gusami told AFP after Saturday’s violence.

“The attack on Cigama was obviously in response to the deployment by vigilantes from the village to nearby Kokeya which helped in pushing the bandits out,” he said.

Gusami, who is the administrator of the local government area, said some 50 gunmen had taken part in the attack on Cigama, shooting indiscriminately.

He said several houses were burnt down and herds of cattle stolen during the attack.

Zamfara state has seen repeated incidents of cattle rustling and deadly raids on farming villages, prompting local communities to set up vigilante groups to counter the bandits.

The vigilantes are often accused of carrying out extra-judicial killings of suspected rustlers.

In retaliation, armed gangs on motorcycles are said to have raided villages to avenge the killing of their colleagues.

In June 2013, more than 50 people were killed when around 150 attackers stormed Kizara village to avenge the killing of their comrades by local vigilantes.

In February last year, 20 people were killed in similar raids on neighbouring Rakumi, Mallamawa and Karagawa villages.

The bandits use a forest straddling Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna and Niger states as a hideout from which to launch raids on herding communities.

The governors of the four states met in Kaduna last week to forge a common front on fighting the cattle raiders.

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