Africa

Nigeria's Zamfara state violence 'kills 48'

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Gunmen have killed 48 people in an attack on a village in Nigeria's Zamfara state, an official says.

They arrived before dawn riding motorbikes, a state spokesman said.

They then climbed a hill overlooking the village and opened fire indiscriminately before carrying out house-to-house attacks, he said.

The attack is said to be linked to an on-going feud involving cattle thieves in the northern state - there were similar attacks last year.

Nigeria, Africa's most populous state and biggest oil producer, is also battling an insurgency by militant Islamists.

However, the latest violence is not believed to be linked to the insurgency, says BBC Nigeria correspondent Will Ross.

Leaders killed

"There was an attack by armed bandits early Tuesday on Kizara village where 48 residents were killed in apparent targeted killings by cattle rustlers that have been terrorising the state for some time now," said Zamfara government spokesman Ibrahim Birnin-Magaji.

Those killed included the local chief, the chief imam and the head of a vigilante group in the village, he added.

Eyewitnesses reported that the gunmen arrived in Kizara before dawn on motorbikes, our correspondent says.

Mr Birnin-Magaji told AFP news agency the attackers took positions on a hill, before shooting indiscriminately.

"They later moved house to house, telling residents that they were looking for members of local vigilante [groups] whom they said had been disturbing them," he is quoted as saying.

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