Armed robbers opened fire on a group of people as they left prayers at a mosque in the northern state of Kaduna on Sunday, killing about 20, a military spokesman said.
“It is clear case of armed robbery” Lieutenant Colonel Sani Usman told AFP, confirming the shooting outside the mosque in the village of Dogo Dawa. “The last time I spoke with my (contact) in the area, he said it was 20 people dead.”
According to the BBC’s report, residents of Dogo Dawa said the attackers stormed the village, shooting and stabbing anyone in sight and many of those targeted were worshippers leaving a mosque.
No group has yet admitted the attack, and reports said it may have been carried out by robbers.
State Information Commissioner Saidu Adamu told the BBC a gang of robbers who have been terrorising the area are likely to have carried out the attack.
And Abdullahi Muhammad, traditional ruler and councillor of Birnin Gwari, a local government area next to the village, was also quoted by Reuters as saying the main suspects were bandits.
“We are suspecting a reprisal attack by gangs of armed robbers who lost some of their members after a recent exchange of fire with the villagers and the vigilantes,” he said.
“The village had been terrorised by an armed group operating from camps in the forest. These armed men mostly attack villages and motorists along the busy Kaduna to Lagos highway.”
Kaduna lies on the dividing line between Nigeria’s largely Christian south and mainly Muslim north.
It is one of the areas where conflict between rival religious and ethnic groups has claimed many hundreds of lives.