Ibrahim Dosara, Zamfara commissioner for information, told AP they were awaiting more information about the incident including the number of casualties. As of now, a military aircraft has been deployed along with security forces as a manhunt for the attackers continues, he said.
Africa’s most populous country has been struggling to contain pockets of insecurity by such violent attacks especially in the troubled northern region but the latest incident is one of the deadliest in recent years.
It comes just as authorities in Nigeria claimed they were recording successes in the fight against the armed groups. The widespread banditry in Nigeria’s northwest is in addition to the Islamic extremist insurgency in the northeast that has lasted more than a decade.
Some of the bandits – whom Nigerian authorities have designated as terrorists – are now joining forces with the extremist rebels, security analysts and residents say.
The groups mostly consist of young men from the Fulani ethnic group, who had traditionally worked as nomadic cattle herders and are caught up in a decades-long conflict with Hausa farming communities over access to water and grazing land.
The problem remains that the Nigerian security personnel are outnumbered and outgunned by the assailants, according to Oluwole Ojewale of the Africa-focused Institute of Security Studies.
“We don’t have adequate security in Zamfara state but (in) some areas, we don’t have security at all,” said Yusuf Ibrahim in Gusau, the state capital.
Commissioner Dosara, however, blames informants for the persistent attacks. “One of the serious problems is that we have a lot of informants getting information to these people (the gunmen,” he said, a challenge which experts have said continues as a result of the extreme poverty in many affected communities.
“The moment you strategize, the moment the enemies also strategize”