Monday, November 27, 2023

Dozens kidnapped by motorcycle 'bandits' in Nigeria

At least 100 people have been abducted by gunmen in Nigeria's northwest, residents have said.

Locals told the BBC that armed men on motorcycles stormed villages in Zamfara state.

The residents were kidnapped after the villages failed to pay a "tax" imposed on them by the gunmen, witnesses said.

In recent years, kidnapping for ransom has become rife in north-western Nigeria.

Armed gangs, referred to locally as bandits, target villages, schools, and travellers, demanding millions of naira in ransom.

According to the Reuters news agency, a local village head said one resident was killed in Friday's attack.

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.

"The terrorists are in control of the area - they send us to the forest to work as agricultural labourers, and when we come back they come into the town to eat meat, tea and bottled goods without paying," one villager complained.

Nigeria faces multiple security challenges: the jihadist insurgency in the north, deadly clashes between animal herders and farmers, a separatist insurgency in the southeast as well as militants in the Niger Delta demanding a greater share of oil profits.

President Bola Tinubu, who took office in May, has yet to detail how he will tackle the insecurity. During his election campaign, Mr Tinubu's office acknowledged the challenge, touting his experience as governor of north-eastern Borno state, home to many Islamist militant groups and the Boko Haram insurgency.


Related stories: Video - 7 killed, others kidnapped in Nigeria

Video - Gunmen kidnap more than 30 people in Zamfara state, Nigeria

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