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Nigeria police repel attack by gunmen, one officer dies

A group of armed men attacked a police division in Zurmi town, in Nigeria’s northwest Zamfara state, but were repelled by officers with casualties recorded on both sides, the police said.

Gangs of heavily armed men referred to as bandits by locals have wreaked havoc across Nigeria’s northwest in the past three years, kidnapping thousands, killing hundreds, and making it unsafe to travel by road or to farm in some areas.

Zamfara police spokesperson Yazid Abubakar said suspected bandits wielding sophisticated weapons attacked the division late on Sunday, killing a senior officer and wounding two others.

“The policemen on duty retaliated and repelled the attack after a serious gun duel in which many of the bandits were killed and some took to their heels with possible gunshot wounds,” Abubakar said in a statement.

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Abubakar said the police have begun an investigation and have deployed more men to fortify the town and arrest fleeing culprits.

Residents said at least seven people were killed during the shootout, including the divisional crime officer.

Ibrahim Mohammed, a resident of Zurmi who witnessed the attack, told Reuters by phone that an unspecified number of people were kidnapped and the police division was set ablaze.

“They ransacked the place and set ablaze some shops and cars near the police station,” Mohammed said.

Another resident Usman Abubakar said, “As I speak with you, they also abducted some people whose numbers cannot be immediately ascertained.”

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Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, is grappling with a multifaceted security crisis, including kidnappings for ransom, which has reached alarming proportions.

The widespread insecurity is exacerbating a cost-of-living crisis caused in part by the reforms of President Bola Tinubu who has yet to detail how he plans to tackle the situation.

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By AHMED KINGIMI

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