Dozens of people were killed in three separate attacks in different states in northern Nigeria.
In the northwestern state of Kaduna, at least 34 people were killed and seven wounded after gunmen attacked a village there.
“Unidentified gunmen attacked Madamai village in Kaura … 34 residents have been confirmed dead following the attack. Seven others sustained injuries,” state security commissioner Samuel Aruwan said on Monday, later adding that the attack took place late Sunday.
Troops came under fire before forcing the assailants to withdraw after an intense exchange, he said.
Aruwan added that two suspects were being questioned in connection with the attack.
Also in Kaduna, gunmen attacked a church in the Kachia district on Sunday.
“A life was lost and some worshippers were seriously injured,” Aruwan said in a separate statement.
In the northwestern Sokota State, 22 Nigerian security personnel were killed in an attack on a remote army base.
Aminu Gobir, a member of the state assembly, told Reuters 17 bodies were recovered on Sunday and an additional five were found on Monday. He said the dead were 14 soldiers, five police officers and three members of a civil defence force.
Nigeria’s military said suspected Islamic State-aligned fighters and criminals were behind the attack.
The Islamic State West Africa Province group is active in the northeast since 2016, a thousand miles away from the northwest.
Criminal gangs known locally as bandits have terrorised northwest and central Nigeria for years, but they have become more brazen in recent months and the military has renewed operations in the region.
These bandits raid villages, steal cattle, kidnap for ransom and burn houses.
But analysts see signs of growing cooperation between the gangs and armed fighters fighting a 12-year operation in the northeast.
The military began an anti-bandit campaign earlier this month in Zamfara State and other northern states have imposed restrictions on movement and trade as well as a telecoms blackout to try to control the gunmen.
Armed bandits have been fleeing their camps in Zamfara and spilling into neighbouring states, according to officials and residents.