15 farmers killed by gunmen in northern Nigeria - police

A motorcyclist taxi rides past a campaign poster of candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party, President Mohammadu Buhari in his native Daura Town, Katsina State on February 16, 2019.
A motorcyclist taxi rides past a campaign poster of candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party, President Mohammadu Buhari in his native Daura Town, Katsina State on February 16, 2019.
Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP

Kano – Gunmen on Monday killed 15 farmers in Nigeria's northwest Katsina state, police said, in the latest violence by cattle thieves in the restive region.

Roughly 200 gunmen on motorcycles besieged the farmers in Yargamji village, 25km from the state capital Katsina, opening fire on them, police spokesperson Gambo Isah told AFP.

"Fifteen bodies were recovered from the farms after the attack which was carried out by bandits," Isah said. "They came on motorcycles numbering around 200."

Local residents confirmed the attack, adding that the assailants arrived around 10:00 (GMT) and stopped at the crop fields outside the village where they opened fire on the farmers.

Isah said counter-terrorism personnel were sent to "engage the bandits".

Military air raids

Rural communities in Katsina, President Muhammadu Buhari's home state, have been repeatedly targeted by gangs of cattle thieves and kidnappers.

Last month, bandits killed 57 people in raids on several villages in the state.

Attempts by local authorities to broker peace with the criminal gangs have not been successful.

The military has carried out air raids on bandit camps in Katsina and neighbouring Zamfara state to end the incessant killings.

The gangs maintain camps in the vast Rugu forest which straddles Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna and Niger states from where they launch deadly attacks.

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