Kaduna State Police said bandits killed seven worshipers in two mosques, including the leader of a village vigilante group, in the restive north of Nigeria.
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State police spokesman Mansoor Hassan said that early Friday evening in Ikara district, dozens of criminal gang members arrived on motorbikes and opened fire on worshipers from the Saya Saya community who were praying in a mosque, killing six of them. In a statement on Saturday.
He added that the attackers then attacked another mosque in a nearby village, killing one person and wounding three others, before stealing four motorbikes and disappearing into the bushes.
Saya community leader Abdul Rahman Yusuf said the leader of the village’s self-defense group was among the dead.
“We believe he was the main target of the attack and that the bandits followed him to the mosque,” added Mr. Youssef, who was among the worshipers who survived the attack.
Kaduna is one of the central and northwestern states of Nigeria that regularly suffers from groups of bandits who attack villages, kill and kidnap residents and burn their homes after looting them.
Criminals regularly target mosques and churches where they kidnap worshipers for a future ransom or to avenge their comrades killed or captured by the local self defense groups fighting them.
The authorities in Kaduna are concerned about the growing rapprochement between these gangs and the jihadist groups that have been fighting the state for nearly 15 years for control of the north-east of the country.