People living in northern Nigeria must not only cope with religious killings, but the daily threat of gang violence, a report from Al-Jazeera has claimed.
The comments came after gunmen threw bombs and opened fire on a cattle market in Potiskum, north-eastern Nigeria, killing at least 60 people, a spokesman for the Yobe state governor, Ibrahim Gaidam, said. Dozens of cattle perished and 29 people had to be rushed to hospital after the attack.
According to Al-Jazeera, gangs often seek to provoke panic at markets, forcing traders to flee so they can steal their wares.
At the time of writing, it is unknown who was behind the attack in the town of Potiskum, although reports suggest that robbers, angered by a crowd burning one of their colleagues alive earlier in the day, had attacked the cattle market in retaliation.
Toyin Gbadegesin, a police spokesman, said, ‘A group of gunmen armed with roughly 20 explosives and assault rifles attacked the Potiskum cattle market. They threw explosives and shot indiscriminately, setting fire to the market, killing lots of livestock and wounding many people, mostly cattle dealers’.
Witnesses said the violence began earlier in the day when gunmen started shooting at the market in Potiskum, a city 575 kms north-east of Nigeria’s central capital, Abuja.
Three people were killed in the ensuing gunfire, which ended when the attackers ran out of ammunition. All but one of the gunmen escaped.
Those gathered in the market beat the gunman left behind, before dousing him in gasoline and lighting him on fire. As the market closed for the night, the gunmen returned, setting fire to cattle-holding pens and cars parked around the area.
By Thursday morning, only the metal skeletons of cars and the burnt ashes of the pens remained on the arid soil. Dead cattle, apparently hacked to death with machetes, lay on the charred ground.
This comes after months of violence, particularly against churches, which has left several hundreds dead and sent many Christians into hiding for fear of attacks by the notorious Islamist group Boko Haram.