Gunmen kill 66 in Nigeria's Kaduna state ahead of vote

Killings in northwestern Nigeria announced just hours before polls open for the country's presidential election.

by
    Kaduna lies almost 200km north of Nigeria's capital, Abuja [Al Jazeera]
    Kaduna lies almost 200km north of Nigeria's capital, Abuja [Al Jazeera]

    Abuja, Nigeria - Gunmen have killed more than 60 people during attacks on two communities in Nigeria's northwestern Kaduna state.

    A government statement on Friday, which confirmed the attacks, said security personnel had been "deployed to the area and arrests have been made".

    "Security agencies today reported the recovery of 66 bodies that were killed in attacks by criminal elements on various dispersed hamlets in the Maro Gida and Iri axis of Kajuru," Kaduna governor's spokesperson Samuel Aruwan said.

    "Among the victims were 22 children and 12 women. Four wounded persons rescued by the security agencies are now receiving medical attention," he added.

    The attack has caused panic among residents of the state.

    "I hope the security agencies can step up their plan and ensure there are no more killings, especially this election period to reduce the tension," Kaduna resident Abdulkadir Inuwa told Al Jazeera.

    The incident comes hours before the presidential and legislative elections on Saturday.

    Election boycott

    The senior Nigeria researcher of the International Crisis Group, Nnamdi Obasi, told Al Jazeera that the attacks may affect the elections.

    "These attacks and the fear of reprisal will certainly affect voter turnout in Kajuru local government area. following similar killings in 2018, they have also heightened long-running tensions in parts of Kaduna state, creating a more combustible atmosphere around the elections," Obasi said.

    Security is a major concern before Saturday's vote.

    Kaduna has a history of election violence.

    In 2011, hundreds were killed in the state during post-election violence after acting President Goodluck Jonathan beat Muhammadu Buhari to the presidency.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News