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41 men found with their throat slit open in Zamfara State

File photo

The Nigerian police have reportedly found the bodies of 41 men with their throats slit open in a community in Zamfara state.

According to the AFP,  as many as eighteen bodies were found in a river on Sunday while 23 others were discovered in a nearby forest in the Zurmi area of Zamfara state, on Tuesday.

Zamfara Police Commissioner Kenneth Ebrimson told reporters that four suspects have been arrested after searching the bush area and also found machetes and guns.

He said the suspects were identified as members of a widely-feared local vigilante group “who decided to carry out the extra-judicial killings”.

Police believe the victims were gang members who had been involved in cattle rustling and kidnapping. But local residents were unable to identify any of the bodies, suggesting they were not resident in the area.

Farming and cattle herding communities in Zamfara have for years been terrorised by gangs of cattle thieves and kidnappers who raid villages, steal cows and abduct locals for ransom. As a hideout, the gangs use the Ruggu forest which straddles Zamfara, Katsina and Kaduna states. The attacks have prompted villagers to form militia groups for protection but they, too, have been accused of taking the law into their own hands and killing suspected bandits. Those killings attract reprisals from motorcycle-riding criminal gangs, who carry out indiscriminate killings and arson in retaliation.

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