Thousands displaced by Nigeria ‘bandit’ attacks

Published: Updated:

Thousands of villagers have been displaced following days of attacks by armed “bandits” on 10 remote communities in central Nigeria, emergency services said Tuesday.

Gunmen on motorbikes stormed into a string of villages in the Shiroro district of Niger state from Friday to Monday, shooting and torching homes and forcing residents to flee.

“We have so far documented 4,000 people displaced by the bandits,” Niger State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) spokesman Ibrahim Audu Hussein told AFP.

“The IDPs (internally displaced persons) are sheltered in a camp in nearby Kuta district,” said Hussein, warning the number could increase as more people were arriving at the camp.

Emergency workers were yet to deploy to the affected communities as the assailants were still in the villages, he said.

“We don’t have casualty details because the area is still too dangerous for our men to enter,” Hussein said.

“We are waiting for security clearance to go and evacuate casualties if there are any.”

Attacks by armed gangs -- called “bandits” by the authorities -- have been widespread in central and northwestern Nigeria.

In June at least 40 people were killed when gunmen raided eight communities in Shiroro district, stealing livestock and burning homes.

The attackers are believed to launch attacks from Rugu forest which straddles Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna and Niger states.

Authorities in several states have tamped down the violence by offering peace talks and an amnesty.