Nigerian state shuts markets over attacks

Authorities in the north-western Nigerian state of Zamfara have banned some economic activities in a bid to tackle armed criminal gangs carrying out killings, kidnappings for ransom and cattle theft.

The state government has announced the closure of all weekly markets and restricted the use of motorbikes from dusk to dawn.

It has also banned the transportation of livestock outside the state while those bringing them in must be investigated to determine the “genuineness” of the livestock.

The weekly open-air markets are usually operated in rural areas where people gather to transact on basic goods including food items, livestock, farm inputs and textiles.

The authorities have also ordered petrol stations not to sell more than 10,000 naira ($24; £18) worth of fuel (equivalent of about 61 litres) to commercial drivers at a given time.

The authorities believe the armed gangs take advantage of these economic activities to facilitate their violent attacks on communities.

Nigeria is grappling with a worsening wave of killings and mass kidnappings for ransom by gunmen – and the authorities, communities and families appear to be taking desperate measures in the face of the crisis.

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