Armed cattle thieves killed 38 people Sunday in three separate attacks in northern Nigeria's Kaduna state, a local official said, the latest bloodshed to hit the region.
The assailants, who usually ride on motorcycles, stormed the villages of Kauran Fawa, Marke and Riheya in the Giwa district, Samuel Aruwan, the internal affairs commissioner for Kaduna state, said in a statement.
"Houses, trucks, and cars were also burned, along with agricultural produce at various farms," he said.
In a statement Sunday evening, President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the "gruesome nature" of the latest killings.
Noting that there had been several other deadly attacks in Kaduna state over the past week, he repeated his call to the security and intelligence chiefs "to do everything they can to destroy" the attackers.
So far, 29 of the victims have been identified.
- Deadly raids, rustling, kidnappings -
The bandits have been increasingly targeting schools in mass abductions of schoolchildren to squeeze ransom from parents and authorities.
A months-long telecom shutdown and military operations in the region have failed to end the violence.
Kaduna has been one of the three states worst-hit by the violence.
In August, an armed gang stormed a heavily guarded elite military academy in Kaduna city, killing two officers and abducting another, a daring attack that embarrassed the military.
The criminal gangs are known to maintain camps in the Rugu forest, which straddles Kaduna, Zamfara, Katsina and Niger states.
In recent days, youth groups have staged protests against the violence, which were dispersed by security forces, who detained protest organisers.