Nigeria – In a series of assaults in Nigeria’s northwest region, gunmen killed at least 200 people and displaced thousands more. The first official toll was reported on Sunday, after reports began to trickle out early Saturday. In repeated attacks in Nigeria’s northwest Zamfara state, gunmen killed at least 200 people and displaced hundreds.
Sadiya Umar Farouq, Nigeria’s minister of humanitarian affairs, described the attacks as “horrific and terrible” last week. Gunmen slaughtered dozens of people in the Anka and Bukkuyum areas, dealing a serious blow to authorities trying to restore order. When “scores are still missing,” according to the minister, more than 10,000 people were displaced.
As a result, many locals have fled, abandoning their possessions. I didn’t see my relatives when we rushed away from the hamlet, but thank God, I have seen them now,” a displaced local named Zainab Hassan says. Another displaced person, Ali Usman, explains: “I don’t believe anyone, including security forces, is in that hamlet now.”
Bello Matawalle, the governor of Zamfara state, which borders Niger, first minimized the violence, claiming just 58 people had been murdered. In an attempt to weaken the bandits, he imposed severe restrictions for over three months last year, shutting down telecommunications, banning fuel sales, and closing cattle markets, but attacks continued.
For years, herders and farmers have struggled in northwest and central Nigeria for access to land, but certain groups have devolved into criminal gangs known as “bandits” who murder, plunder, and kidnap for ransom.