Armed bandits kill at least 30 in Nigeria's Zamfara state

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MAIDUGURI, Nigeria, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Armed bandits have killed at least 30 people in Nigeria's Zamfara State, raiding several villages in a region that has been in a security crisis for more than two years, residents and security sources said on Friday.

There have been a series of attacks in northwest Nigeria, which has seen a sharp rise in mass abductions and other violent crimes since late 2020 as the government struggles to maintain law and order amid a flagging economy.

Three residents said the attack on Anka local government area in Zamfara happened around 12:45 p.m. on Tuesday when more than 300 armed bandits on motor-bikes stormed eight villages and started shooting sporadically.

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Abubakar Bello, a resident who fled the attack, told Reuters by phone that the local vigilante were outnumbered by the gunmen who burnt down many houses and shops.

Another resident, Ummaru Makeri, lost his wife and three children during the attack, while his house was set ablaze, he said by phone.

"Kurfa and Rafin-Gero villages ... have been under siege for two days without security forces," Makeri said.

Zamfara State is among states worst hit by kidnappings and has been under a telecoms blockade since early September, which authorities said they imposed to disrupt coordination among the bandits and help the armed forces tackle them.

But that has also meant few people know what is going on in Zamfara as authorities are not forthcoming with information.

A spokesperson for the Zamfara governor told Reuters that the gunmen were intercepted by the military and declined to provide further details.

State police spokesman Muhammed Shehu could not be reached for comment.

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Reporting by Maiduguri newsroom, Ardo Hazzard; additional reporting by Camillus Eboh in Abuja; Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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