Abuja: At least 150 people were killed during the weekend in separate attacks in northwest and northeast regions of Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, officials and witnesses said on Monday.
Machete and axe wielding neighbourhood vigilantes hop into a pick-up on July 19, 2013. Pic: AFP
In the northwestern state of Zamfara, the death toll of an attack in a remote village has hit 105, increasing from the official 30 figure reported earlier by the state police authority, according to Xinhua.
Husseini Adamu, traditional ruler in charge of the affected village, who confirmed the figure, told reporters at the emirate council that it also registered people displaced by the attack. According to him, unknown gunmen stormed a security meeting of vigilante members in Unguwar Galadima village of Maru local government area of the state.
The gunmen arrived in the village on more than 100 motorcycles and operated for over three hours, the traditional ruler recounted in his account of the incident. Witnesses said about 40 of the victims were buried Sunday.
Governor Abdulaziz Yari of the northwestern state wept uncontrollably at the mass burial of victims, including women and children, whose corpses littered various parts of the community. At least 79 people were buried in the presence of the governor who attended the funeral with deputy governor Ibrahim Wakkala.
Herdsmen, who have recently become a security threat in the northern part of Nigeria, were suspected to be perpetrators of the attack, according to residents. Zamfara is one of the states seeing a high number of attacks, with women and children being the most affected.
In a separate incident, at least 25 people, mainly politicians, were killed in an attack in Gwoza local government area of northeast Borno state Saturday. Witnesses said the politicians, whose political group was not disclosed, were shot dead along Maiduguri-Biu road, en route Maiduguri for a political event.
Residents of the community alleged that the attack was perpetrated by Boko Haram, the ruthless sect which has proved to be a major security threat in Nigeria since 2009. Security operatives have kept mum on the incident.
Maiduguri, capital of Borno state, is the headquarters of Boko Haram, a sect which seeks to enshrine the Islamic Sharia law into the constitution of Nigeria, a secular nation.
In the neighbouring northeastern state of Yobe, where scores of college students were slain less than two months ago, another attack hit a mosque at Buni-Gari, about 60 km south of Damaturu, the state capital, Saturday.
According to eyewitnesses, 20 people were killed when gunmen, also suspected to be Boko Haram members, stormed the community in 13 utility vehicles and motorbikes, spraying bullets and throwing hand-made and petrol bombs in the area.
Deputy Governor of the state Abubakar Ali described the attack as "callous" when he visited survivors Sunday. "This is an unfortunate and merciless attack meted on innocent citizens without any sense of reasoning," said Ali, who further expressed sadness that the northern state had lost so many lives and properties to insurgency.
He promised that the government would set up a committee to resettle the villagers and assess the level of damage so as to know the level of assistance required by the victims. He said many survivors had fled the village and taken refuge in Damaturu and its environs.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Yobe, one of three northeast states under emergency rule, is a stronghold of Boko Haram.
Nigeria, which has a population of approximately 170 million, is facing major security challenges which are crippling economic activities in some states. The northern part of the country is plagued by violence, including attacks by the Boko Haram sect. The southern part is said to be a hub of criminal activities which include oil theft or bunkering, kidnap and armed robbery attacks.
Communal clashes often paralyse commercial activities in the central state of Plateau, which shares borders with many northern states, whereas pockets of violence in the north central state of Benue are mostly attributed to herdsmen.