At least 10 people were feared killed and even more sustained severe injuries in new attacks on two communities in Kaduna State.
Properties were also looted and houses razed during the predawn attacks which witnesses reportedly occurred in Birnin Gwari Local Government Area, about 125 kilometres west of Kaduna town, and bore the marks of killer herdsmen.
“The herdsmen entered the villages between Friday night and early Saturday morning and killed about 10 people,” a witness said, preferring not to be named.
The Kaduna State police commissioner, Agyole Abeh confirmed the attacks but said only four were killed and five injured.
“We have since deployed ‘Operation Dofaji’ and other police components to the area,” Abeh said.
Witnesses said the armed intruders stormed the village of Dangaji around 8:00 p.m. Friday, killing many and leaving several injured.
Another attack in a nearby community of Unguwar Gajere was also hit in a predawn assault by the unidentified suspects, who are still at large at the time of filing this report Saturday evening.
It was in Unguwar Gajere, which falls under Kutemeshi District, that the attackers killed 10 people on Saturday morning, witnesses said.
While deadly attacks are not uncommon in Birnin Gwari, which falls under Kaduna Central Senatorial District, most of the deadly incidents in recent years have been blamed more on armed bandits than herdsmen.
At least 20 were reported killed in an April 2015 attack which the police treated as a case of armed robbery.
Attacks relating to the alleged rustling of cows in the area had also been reported in recent years.
Abeh indicated that the latest attacks involved suspected herdsmen and members of the local vigilante groups, but did not elaborate, saying he was at a meeting.
The locals said it was true that the vigilante men tried to repel the invaders, but were largely overpowered. “They caused a lot of damage because the vigilante groups were not adequately equipped to contain them,” a witness said.