Nigeria: Dozens killed by cattle thieves in Zamfara state

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This file picture taken on February 23, 2017 shows two cattle at a livestock yard in Kaduna, northwest Nigeria. The kidnapping gangs and cattle thieves are known to operate in northern Kaduna and Zamfara.
Dozens of people have died in clashes between vigilantes and cattle rustlers in Zamfara in recent months (file photo)

Cattle thieves have killed more than 20 people in Nigeria’s northern state of Zamfara, officials say.

The thieves arrived in the village of Nigeria on motorbikes, shooting at people and setting fire to their homes.

Clashes between vigilantes and cattle rustlers in Zamfara have intensified in recent months.

Violence related to cattle has been going on for years in Nigeria – even longer than the northern Islamist insurgency and southern oil militancy.

It is now said to have killed more people than the Boko Haram conflict, although official statistics are hard to come by.

The chairman of the local government area for Zanoka, Mustapha Muhammad, told the AFP news agency that people in the village had “buried 23 people killed in the attack, including vigilantes who tried to fight off the bandits”.

According to the Zamfara state government, more than 10,000 cattle have been stolen in the last seven years.

Most of the violence involving cattle theft is in the country’s Middle Belt where cattle-herders and settled farmers compete for ever-scarcer resources, says BBC World Service Africa Editor, Mary Harper.

Some analysts say that it is a conflict between Muslim nomads and Christian farmers in this region. However, it is more complex than that, involving criminals and politicians, our correspondent says.

Many people say poor governance lies at the root of the violence, she adds, with security forces regarded as ineffective or corrupt.

Kidnappings for ransom have also been on the rise. In early May, about 100 people were abducted in just two days on a road near Kaduna’s border with Zamfara state.

BBC

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