Shiroro - An unspecified number of people were killed on Tuesday evening by gunmen suspected to be cattle rustlers in Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger, the police and community sources said.
A village head in the area, who pledged anonymity, told news on Wednesday that the victims included the district Head of Allawa in Shiroro, a police inspector and 33 others.
The community leader said the attackers, numbering about 40 and using machine guns and other dangerous weapons, were believed to be Fulani herdsmen.
He said the operation lasted some two hours during which the attackers set more than 25 houses ablaze and injured many.
The village head said many of the villagers had been displaced as a result of the incident.
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Confirming the incident, the Police Public Relations Officer in Niger, ASP Bala Elkana, said that the command had yet to confirm the number of casualties.
Elkana said a policeman was among those killed and added that the incident occurred in the night.
He said because of the lack of communication between Allawa and other parts of the state, the security agencies could not respond on time.
Elkana said "the Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Abubakar Marafa, has dispatched the Divisional Police Officer in Kagara and the Police Area Commander in Minna to the troubled village to assess the situation and bring back a report".
The Nigerian Army has been battling with cattle rustlers in Shiroro Local Government Area.
The Army recently recovered 184 cows and 83 sheep from suspected cattle rustlers and handed them over to the Chairman of Munya Local Government, Alhaji Abdulkadir Bida, to enable their owners to claim them.