Nigeria police have killed 30 gunmen after criminal gangs raided four villages in the country's northwest, which has been hit by a surge in kidnappings and attacks, police said on Tuesday.
At least 10 villagers were killed in the different raids, Zamfara State police spokesman Mohammed Shehu said in a statement, before police fought off the gangs.
Heavily armed criminal gangs known locally as "bandits" have become an increasing security challenge in northwest Nigeria, ransacking villages and carrying out mass abductions for ransom.
Police said gunmen carried out raids on Gobirawa, Gora, Rini and Madoti Dankule villages in Zamfara State in the early hours of Tuesday.
"As a result of the encounter, about 30 hoodlums were neutralised while others escaped to the forest," the statement said.
Criminal gangs have recently turned their attention to kidnapping students and schoolchildren for ransom.
Dozens of gunmen last month seized 39 students from their dormitories in the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization in Afaka in Kaduna state, after a gunfight with soldiers.
Some of those students have been released, but it was the fourth mass abduction at a school or college in northwest Nigeria since the start of the year.
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