Upwards of 150 people have been abducted by gunmen in Nigeria’s northwest, local residents said, pointing to dozens of armed men on motorcycles who stormed villages in Zamfara state for the punitive raid.
The BBC reports the residents were kidnapped after the villages failed to pay a “tax” imposed on them by the gunmen, witnesses said. One person was killed in the attack.
In recent years, kidnapping for ransom has become rife in north-western Nigeria with locals as well as Christian church leaders targeted.
Armed gangs, often referred to locally as bandits, have targeted villages, schools, and travellers, demanding millions of naira in ransom and making it unsafe to travel by road or to farm in some areas.
A band of unidentified gunmen have kidnapped a Catholic priest along with a seminarian in southern Nigeria, demanding a ransom of $120,000 for their release. https://t.co/kc0N7mqk42
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) August 16, 2022
A local village head said one resident was killed in Friday’s attack which eventually saw upwards of 150 people taken away, according to the Reuters news agency.
The BBC heard from a resident from the village of Mutunji, who said he was abducted by the gunmen but managed to escape.
“We are trying to collect the money… but suddenly the bandits came in and robbed people. They took more than 100 people – most of them were women and young people,” the resident said.
Locals told the BBC the gunmen’s leader is named “Damana.”
They said Damana controls most of the region in the absence of state security forces.