The death toll from an attack by suspected cattle rustlers on a herding village in northern Nigeria’s Zamfara state has risen to 36, the local traditional ruler said on Friday.
Motorcycle-riding gunmen stormed the village of Bawon-Danji on Wednesday, opening fire on herders and forcing many to flee into the bush.
Police and local officials on Thursday said 12 herders were killed on the spot and three were shot dead later in a second attack, which targeted mourners at a funeral.
The Emir of Gusau and chairperson of the state council of traditional rulers told reporters the toll had increased after more bodies had been found.
“We have so far recovered 36 bodies from the attack,” 26 of which have been buried, the emir, Attahiru Muhammad Ahmad, said.
“The death toll is not conclusive, it may rise because military and police search teams are still combing the bush for bodies. More bodies are likely to be recovered,” he said.
Ahmad said when the gunmen returned to the village for the second attack they opened fire on the large gathering of mourners at the cemetery, causing a stampede.
“The attackers pursued them into the bush on motorcycles, shooting them as they tried to escape. This is why we think more dead bodies could be scattered in the bush,” he added.
Police could not immediately confirm the new toll.
Rural communities in the agrarian state are under siege from gangs who kill, loot and torch homes.
This has prompted villages to form vigilante groups – which in turn are often accused of extra-judicial killings of suspected cattle thieves, prompting deadly reprisals by the gangs.