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Gunmen have killed dozens in an attack on a village market in northwest Nigeria, government officials said.

The attack took place on Sunday evening in Nigeria’s Sokoto’s state, in the Goronyo district, where bandits have likely been relocating to following security operations in neighbouring areas.

“We’re not sure of the [death toll] figure. But it is 30-something,” Sokoto government spokesman Muhammad Bello said in a statement on Monday.

Bandits have terrorised northwest and central Nigeria for years, but attacks have become more violent in recent months.

Another village market was raided on October 8, in Sabon Birni district near the border with Niger, killing 19 people.

Last month, 17 Nigerian security personnel were killed when gunmen attacked their base in Sabon Birni’s Dama village, an assault the military blamed on ISIL (ISIS)-aligned fighters.

“We’re faced and bedevilled by many security challenges in our own area here, particularly banditry, kidnapping and other associated crimes,” Bello said.

Nigerian troops began conducting air and ground operations last month, targeting bandit camps in the neighbouring Zamfara state.

Officials in Sokoto expressed concern that these networks had relocated to their area to escape the crackdown.

Sokoto Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal requested “the presence of more forces in the state and the deployment of more resources,” according to Bello, who spoke on the governor’s behalf.

Marauding gunmen operating across the northwest and central parts of Nigeria are notorious for abducting hundreds of school children and travellers for ransom, especially in remote communities where there is no adequate security presence.

Parts of Sokoto, like other neighbouring states in the northwestern part of the country, are under a telecommunications blockade as part of a security operation to disrupt the operations of the armed gangs.

Nigeria’s security operatives are outnumbered by the gunmen, who often raid communities in their hundreds.

The assailants are made up of various groups. Security analysts have said they are mostly young men from the Fulani ethnic group who had traditionally worked as nomadic cattle herders and are caught up in a decades-long conflict with Hausa farming communities over access to water and grazing land.

This content was originally published here.

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