Gunmen kill 26 in volatile central Nigeria

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Mariga, Niger

Criminal gangs have killed two dozen local vigilate guards and a soldier in central Nigeria, officials said on Friday, in the latest violence in the restive region.

Dozens of motorcycle-riding assailants called bandits by locals late on Monday opened fire on the vigilantes in an ambush, outside Kotonkoro village in Mariga district in Niger state, killing 25.

Local communities often form semi-official self-defense groups to collaborate with security forces against gangs of kidnappers and cattle rustlers who raid and pillage villages in Nigeria’s northwest and central states.

“We have lost 25 members to the bandits,” Abu Hashim, head of vigilantes in Mariga, told AFP.

“We have recovered 20 of the deceased but we are yet to reclaim five more bodies which are still in the bush,” he said.

A local lawmaker, Ibrahim Ilyasu, confirmed the attack, saying a soldier was also killed.

The vigilantes were on the trail of the bandits who had attacked a military post at the outskirts of the village, killing a soldier in a gunfight, Ilyasu told AFP. “The bandits attacked a military post and killed a soldier.—AFP