MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (Reuters) – Nigerian gunmen kidnapped at least 60 people in a remote community in northwestern Zamfara state who were mostly women observing Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, residents said on Thursday in the latest wave of abductions to hit the state.
Armed gangs are rife across the country’s northwest where they rob or kidnap for ransom, and violence has been increasing as thinly stretched security forces often fail to stop attacks.
That has raised concern about whether residents in the region will be able to vote in the February presidential poll to choose a successor to President Muhammadu Buhari, who is constitutionally barred from running again.
Two residents said gunmen on motorbikes arrived in the Magami Tandu community of the Kaura Namoda local government area on Wednesday evening and shot sporadically.
They took mostly women who were observing Mawlid – a celebration of Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, which is held between the end of September to the end of November in Nigeria’s mainly northern Muslim states, the residents said
“On a daily basis there is killing or abduction, which is leaving us homeless. Please (tell) the government to act and bring justice to us,” said Abdulkarim Haruna, whose wife was kidnapped.
The residents said 19 people were killed on Tuesday when gunmen attacked Ryuji community in Zamfara’s Zurmi local government area, which is adjacent to Kaura Namoda.
Zamfara police spokesperson Mohammed Shehu could not be reached for comment.
(Reporting by by Maiduguri newsroom; Writing by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Josie Kao)