At least 10 people were feared killed and even more sustained severe injuries when gunmen suspected to be herdsmen attacked two villages in Birnin Gwari Local Government Area, about 125 kilometres west of Kaduna town.

Witnesses who reported the incident said the armed intruders stormed the village of Dangaji around 8:00 p.m. Friday, killing many and leaving several injured, while a nearby community of Unguwar Gajere was also hit in a predawn assault by the unidentified suspects, who are still at large at the time of filing this report Saturday evening.

“It is unfortunate that since on Friday night we encountered the attack of herdsmen in Dangaji village. They were shooting and burning houses and people had to run for their dare lives,” said a community leader in one of the villages.

“This morning (Saturday ) they went to another village, Unguwan Gajere and killed about nine men. One of those wounded died on the way to the hospital,” he added.

The community leader said “the herdsmen had disappeared” before soldiers could get to the affected villages.

The Kaduna State Police Commissioner, Agyole Abeh, confirmed the attacks Saturday evening but said only four were killed and five injured, according to Premium Times reports.

“We have since deployed ‘Operation Dofaji’ and other Police components to the area,” Mr. Abeh said.

While deadly attacks are not uncommon in Birnin Gwari, which falls under Kaduna Central Senatorial District, most of the deadly incidents in recent years have been blamed more on armed bandits than herdsmen.

At least 20 were reported killed in an April 2015 attack which the police treated as a case of armed robbery. Attacks relating to the alleged rustling of cows in the area had also been reported in recent years.

Mr. Abeh indicated that the latest attacks involved suspected herdsmen and members of the local vigilante groups, but did not elaborate, saying he was at a meeting.

The locals said it was true that the vigilante men tried to repel the invaders, but were largely overpowered.

“They caused a lot of damage because the vigilante groups were not adequately equipped to contain them,” a witness said.

It was however not immediately clear why the attackers struck in the two villages.