Around 100 cattle thieves on motorcycles opened fire on a Muslim congregation in remote Dutsen Gari village in Maru district as residents were observing the weekly Friday prayers.
“The bandits killed five worshippers and kidnapped 18 others, including the imam,” state police spokesman Mohammed Shehu told AFP.
Residents, however, said quite 30 worshippers were abducted.
“The gunmen attacked the mosque (in Zamfara) while the imam was delivering the sermon and took away quite 30 people, including the imam, after shooting dead five worshippers,” one resident, Ibrahim Altine, told AFP.
Northwest Nigeria may be a hotbed of criminal gangs who raid villages, stealing cattle, kidnapping for ransom and burning homes after looting food supplies.
The gangs maintain camps within the Rugu forest which straddles Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna and Niger states from where they launch attacks.
Troop deployments and peace talks with local authorities have did not end the attacks.
Unlike Boko Haram jihadists, the criminal gangs haven’t any ideological leanings, but concerns are growing that the jihadists are gradually infiltrating the gangs.
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