KANO, Nigeria – Gunmen carrying machetes attacked a village in northwest Nigeria early Sunday morning, going house to house posing as visitors before shooting and slashing 19 people to death, witnesses and police said.
The attack happened in Lingyado village in Zamfara state, a rural region of pasturelands approaching Nigeria's border with Niger. About 150 attackers surrounded the village and roamed between its compounds, shooting residents who came out to greet them, elder Husaini Dansadau told The Associated Press.
Those who could fled into nearby cornfields when the shooting began. Some of the gunmen shouted that they'd rape the women they found, said witness Ahmad Tsauri Lingyado, who uses the village's name as his last name as is custom in Nigeria's north.
The attackers used Kalashnikov rifles and machetes in the attack, witnesses said. They stole money and valuables from the simple homes before fleeing into the darkness.
At least 19 people died in the assault, Zamfara state police spokesman Sunusi Amiru said. Seven others were wounded, including women and children.
Amiru said police now guard the village. A detachment of soldiers from a nearby base also entered the area Sunday, where the occasional gunshot still could be heard, witnesses said.
It appeared the attack was a reprisal for another village attack in August, Amiru said. Witnesses said the attackers appeared to be cattle herders from the Hausa Fulani ethnic group, which dominates Nigeria's Muslim north. Lingyado is a village of Hausa Fulani settlers.
Communal violence regularly occurs in Nigeria, an oil-rich nation of 150 million people. Typically, the violence cuts across different ethnic or religious groups, though it finds its base in economic or political strife.
Authorities rarely can stop the attacks, as they occur deep in the countryside, far from the limited protection Nigeria's weak central government can provide.