Police in northwest Nigeria say worshippers have been kidnapped while they were observing jumu'at prayers, despite intensified action against armed gangs ordered by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.
Zamfara state police spokesperson Mohammed Shehu said the attack took place Friday afternoon at the Jumu'at Central Mosque in the Gummi local government area as worshippers gathered for prayers.
Eyewitnesses told local media the attackers, disguised as worshippers, hid guns in their clothes until they infiltrated the mosque.
The attackers shot sporadically into the air and herded dozens of worshippers into a nearby forest.
Zamfara state police responded to the incident, but Shehu said he could not immediately offer VOA any additional details about the attack.
Armed gangs have terrorized northwest and central Nigeria for years. More recently, violence spread to the southeast, where separatist group Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has been largely blamed for causing unrest. IPOB denies the allegations.
Security analyst Senator Iroegbu said the government’s approach to addressing insecurities has not worked.
"It's a continued red flag,” he said. “I feel most of the responses have been too reactionary and ad hoc in nature. There has not been [a] holistic definition of what is actually happening in the northwest and how to arrest the situation. And this also hampers the effectiveness of the security operatives because for them to operate effectively, their scope of operation need to be well defined."
Last month during a top security meeting, President Buhari ordered security chiefs to deal with terrorists without constraints.
Days later, the Nigerian air force said airstrikes in the northwest and central regions killed 55 gang members and freed some hostages.