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Gunmen kill 16 worshippers during mosque attack in Niger

By News Desk

No fewer than 16 worshippers have been killed and three other sustained varying degrees of injuries at a mosque in Niger State after gunmen stormed the worship place and opened fire on those observing prayers in the holy place.

Aside from those whose lives were cut short by the assailants, it was learnt that other villagers were also abducted in the latest violence in the restive region.

Confirming the development on Tuesday, the Secretary to the State Government, Ahmed Matane, said that scores of gunmen on motorcycles stormed Maza-Kuka village in Mashegu district of Niger state on Monday and opened fire during morning prayers.

“The bandits shot dead 16 people inside the mosque while they were praying. Three worshippers were injured in the attack, one of them critically,” Matane said.

Matane said that one other person was killed in nearby Kaboji village as the gunmen fled the area. “We are still investigating the motive of the attack and we have despatched military and police personnel to the area,” he said.

Also, a police spokesman confirmed the attack but did not provide details.

Gangs of cattle thieves and kidnappers for ransom known locally as bandits have been terrorising communities in northwest and central Nigeria where they raid villages, killing and burning homes after looting them.

Although they are driven by financial motive, the gangs have been infiltrated by jihadists waging more than a decade-old insurgency in the northeast.

Residents in several communities in Niger state have lately reported an influx of fighters from the northeast who have been taking over remote villages.

The gangs have increasingly been abducting students and schoolchildren to extort ransom from parents and authorities.

More than 1,000 students have been kidnapped since December, but most have been released after negotiations with their captors.

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