By John Ikani
More than 200 people were buried following killings of civilians by motorcycle-riding gunmen in Zamfara State with many still unaccounted for.
The military conducted air attacks on Monday on targets in the Gusami forest and west Tsamre village in Zamfara, killing more than 100 bandits including two of their leaders.
In what appears to be a retaliatory move, more than 300 gunmen on motorcycles stormed eight villages in the Anka local area in Zamfara on Tuesday and started shooting sporadically, killing at least 30 people.
Attackers also rampaged through 10 villages in Anka and Bukkuyum districts on Wednesday through Thursday, firing at residents and looting and burning homes.
Residents with the aid of the Nigerian Military returned to the villages on Saturday to organise mass burials.
The state government said 58 people had been killed during the attacks.
However, Shawwal Aliyu, the coordinator of Zamfara Circle, a civil society organization, said the number of the corpses recovered and buried has reached 200.
“As of today (Saturday morning), 200 people have been buried in funerals on Thursday morning, Friday morning and night and this morning. 200 dead bodies and we are still searching for dead bodies. You know it is not in one area so the search parties have been dispatched to all the affected villages where the data is being collated,” he said.
Mr Aliyu added that more corpses had been discovered but had not been buried as of the time he was speaking with this reporter.
“We did not count the ones discovered after the first burial this morning. We will wait until the volunteers finish gathering and then count the number.”
Northwest Nigeria has seen a sharp rise in mass abductions and other violent crimes since late 2020 as the government struggles to maintain law and order.
Last year, bandits made international headlines with a series of high-profile attacks on schools and colleges where they kidnapped hundreds of pupils. Most were released but some of those students are still being held.
Bandit violence has its roots in clashes between nomadic cattle herders and sedentary farmers over land and resources. But tit-for-tat attacks have over the years spiralled into broader criminality.