At least 200 people in Nigeria’s north-western Zamfara state have been buried after a wave of vicious attacks by gangs of gunmen over several days.
According to survivors, motorbike-riding gangsters attacked village after village, shooting indiscriminately.
The attacks are thought to be in response to military air strikes on Monday, which drove some of the criminal gangs out of their forest hideouts.
For several years, the groups have terrorised Zamfara and neighbouring states.
These gangs, known locally as bandits, are sophisticated networks of criminals who operate across vast swaths of territory, frequently stealing animals, kidnapping for ransom, and killing those who oppose them.
The government officially designated bandits as terrorists this week, allowing security forces to impose harsher sanctions on the groups and their supporters.
On Friday, it was reported that more than 100 people had been killed in the region by suspected bandit militants after 300 gunmen on motorcycles arrived in as many as nine communities between Tuesday and Thursday night.
During the assault, gunmen set fire to homes and mutilated the bodies of their victims.
According to villager Idi Musa, the attackers also stole around 2,000 cattle.
According to local media, the armed groups responsible for the attacks appeared to be on the move, heading towards the western part of Zamfara state after abandoning hideouts in forested areas in response to sustained government attacks.
More than 200 people were buried, according to a spokesperson for Humanitarian Affairs Minister Sadiya Umar Farouq.
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She also confirmed that over 10,000 people had been displaced and that many were still missing.
Meanwhile, officials in neighbouring Kebbi state reported that bandits had freed 30 more schoolchildren and one teacher who had been held captive for six months. It is unknown whether a ransom was paid for their release.
Kidnappers kidnapped 102 students and eight teachers from a school in Birnin Kebbi in June. An unspecified number of children were released last year after their parents negotiated with the kidnappers.
Kidnapping for ransom is a multibillion-dollar criminal enterprise in Nigeria.
This weekend, a storey about a father from Katsina state, which borders Zamfara to the east, who has been removing the roof of his house to sell the metal sheeting in order to raise a ransom of about $250 (£180) for his son has gone viral.
The photos of Sai’du Faskari were shared on Facebook by The Katsina Post. He’d been kidnapped by gunmen, and his children had raised approximately $125 for his ransom.
When his son went to pay the bandits, he was kidnapped.