Gunmen Abduct Several Worshippers at Mosque in Nigeria's Zamfara State

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Gunmen have reportedly abducted several individuals at a mosque in Nigeria's Zamfara State.

Gunmen carried out an abduction at a mosque in Nigeria, targeting approximately one dozen worshippers along with a woman. The incident occurred in the Buluku community, situated on the outskirts of Gusau, the capital of northwest Zamfara State. The attack took place during Ramadan prayers in the early hours of Tuesday, as recounted by witness Mohammed Haliru.

According to Haliru, the group of gunmen fired several shots in the vicinity of the mosque while Muslims were engaged in Tahajjud (Night prayer) at approximately 2 a.m. The sudden gunfire instigated panic among those present, prompting them to flee the mosque in fear. Amidst the chaos, individuals fell prey to the assailants outside, with some reportedly pleading for mercy in the name of Allah.

Another resident, Samaila Aminu, disclosed that the community is still grappling with the whereabouts of approximately one dozen worshippers who were present in the mosque at the time of the attack.

Police spokesperson Yacid Abubakar in Zamfara State informed Anadolu that the gunmen singled out a businessman in the vicinity. "Reports indicate that the armed assailants fatally shot a businessman in his residence while he resisted abduction, subsequently abducting his wife," he stated.

Abubakar noted that the sound of heavy gunfire prompted worshippers to evacuate the mosque.

However, he clarified that the police had not received any reports of abductions occurring within the mosque premises. Additionally, he expressed uncertainty regarding whether either the police or the military had initiated rescue operations for the abducted individuals.

On Monday, army chief Lieutenant General Taoreed Lagbaja, in an Easter celebration message to troops engaged in operations against terrorism, banditry, and armed groups, urged them not to be discouraged despite the recent surge in violent attacks in the country.

Between January and March, over 400 individuals, including students and displaced victims of terror attacks, have been abducted by armed groups.

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu has faced increasing pressure to address the violence.

In 2022, gunmen abducted 19 Muslim worshippers following an attack on a mosque in the restive northwest of Nigeria, as confirmed by the police.

The assailants stormed the mosque in Maigamji village, situated in Katsina state, during evening prayers Subsequently, they conducted the kidnappings after shooting and injuring the imam and another worshipper, stated local police spokesman Gambo Isah.

Northwest and central Nigeria have been plagued by criminal gangs, commonly referred to as bandits, who engage in village raids, cattle theft, kidnapping for ransom, and the destruction of homes after looting supplies.

Typically, hostages are released following the payment of a ransom to these gangs, who often seek refuge in the expansive Rugu Forest. Spanning four states in northwest Nigeria, including Katsina, the forest serves as a haven for their operations.

There are growing concerns about an emerging alliance in the northeast between bandits and jihadists, who have been involved in a 12-year insurgency seeking to establish a Caliphate.