Gunmen kill 38 villagers in northern Nigeria's Kaduna state


KADUNA, Nigeria, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Gunmen killed at least 38 villagers in northwestern Nigeria's Kaduna state, residents and a local community group said on Tuesday, a region chronically marred by armed violence.

During the attack, which started late on Sunday night and continued into the early hours of Monday morning, armed men shot people and burned at least 100 houses, said Luka Binniyat, spokesperson for the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SKPU).

Resident Jasen Joseph said the attackers had killed some people with machetes. "I lost many friends, uncles, parents and mentors in this place," he told Reuters. "If you go down there, the two streets, you will see corpses everywhere."

Binniyat said 12 survivors from the attacks in the Kaura local government area were receiving hospital treatment.

Gangs of armed men have attacked hundreds of local communities across northwestern Nigeria in recent years, while Islamist militants continue to stage attacks in the northeast.

Binniyat said 46 people in all had been killed in unprovoked attacks in southern Kaduna in the five days to Monday, and that volunteers were searching for missing persons.

Villagers had seen "strange herdsmen" setting up camp near the area in the days before the attacks began.

"Thousands of residents of these two sacked communities and surrounding villages are leaving their homes in droves as (internally displaced people) for any area they may find some measure of safety," Binniyat said in a statement on Monday.

"We condemn the resurgence of these mass slaughters and call on government to take its responsibility to secure lives and property very seriously or it should leave the stage."

A Nigerian police spokesman did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Reporting by Garba Muhammad in Kaduna, additional reporting by Bosan Yausak, writing by Libby George, editing by Mark Heinrich

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