More than 100 people, including women and children, were abducted on Sunday when gunmen stormed four villages in Nigeria’s northwestern Zamfara state, the Information Commissioner and residents said on Monday.
Kidnapping has become endemic in northwest Nigeria, with roving gangs of armed men abducting people from villages, roads and farms and demanding ransom money from their relatives.
More than 40 people were abducted in Kanwa village in Zurmi Local Government Area of Zamfara, Zamfara Commissioner for Information Ibrahim Dosara and a local resident said.
Another 37, mostly women and children, were captured in Kwabre community in the same local government area, added the resident, who declined to be named for security reasons.
“Right now Kanwa village is deserted, the bandits split into two groups and attacked the community. They kidnapped children aged 14-16 and women,” said the Kanwa village resident.
In Yankaba and Gidan Goga communities in Maradun Local Government Area, at least 38 people were abducted while working on their farms, residents said.
Information Commissioner Dosara accused the gunmen of using the abductees as human shields against army airstrikes.
Nigerian forces have launched a series of airstrikes in Zamfara and other troubled northern states, neutralizing many insurgents and dislodging them from their hideouts in the region’s vast forest reserves.
The country’s military has also come under fire after it was discovered that some of its airstrikes caused civilian deaths.
Last month, the Nigerian Air Force said it was reviewing “all allegations of accidental airstrikes on civilians, as well as reviewing the circumstances that led to these attacks.”