LAGOS, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- At least 220 people, including civilians and security personnel, lost their lives in the first 17 days of this year in armed attacks in central Nigeria's Niger state, the state's governor has said.
Gunmen attacked 300 communities in the state between Jan. 1 and Jan. 17, and at least 50 of those attacks led to casualties, with at least 220 people killed and 200 others abducted, governor Abubakar Sani Bello told a briefing late Tuesday in Abuja, following a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
"We lost some security personnel. Their number is 25. Unfortunately, we also lost about 165 civilians and 30 local vigilantes," the governor said.
"So, it's a very dire situation that we have been battling in the last few weeks since the beginning of this year," Bello said, adding that the gunmen were using forests as hideouts and moving between states to escape the hunt of security forces.
He called for simultaneous operations by security forces in different states and the recruitment of more security personnel to sustain the fight against the gunmen.
Armed banditry has been a primary security threat in Nigeria's northern and central regions, leading to deaths and kidnappings in recent months.