Bandits killed seven worshipers praying at two mosques, including the leader of a village self-defense group in Nigeria’s restive north, police in Kaduna state said.
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Early on Friday evening, about 10 members of criminal gangs drove up on motorcycles in Ikara district and opened fire on worshipers of the Saya Saya community who were praying in a mosque, killing six of them, state police spokesman Mansir said Hassan, in a statement on Saturday.
The attackers then attacked another mosque in a neighboring village, where they killed one person and injured three others, before stealing four motorcycles and disappearing into the bush, he added.
According to Abdulrahman Yusuf, leader of the Say Saya community, the leader of the village’s self-defense group was among those killed.
“We believe he was the main target of the attack and that the bandits followed him to the mosque,” added Mr Yusuf, who is among the worshipers who survived the attack.
Kaduna is one of Nigeria’s central and northwestern states and is regularly plagued by groups of bandits who raid villages, killing and kidnapping residents and burning down their homes after looting them.
Criminals regularly target mosques and churches, where they kidnap worshipers to extort future ransom or to avenge comrades killed or arrested by local self-defense groups fighting against them.
Kaduna authorities are concerned about a growing rapprochement between these gangs and jihadist groups that have been fighting the state for control of the northeast for nearly 15 years.