The raid happened as the vigilantes were preparing to pursue terrorists who attacked their village.
Many vigilantes were reportedly killed in an air raid by a yet-to-be-identified aircraft in Galadima Kogo, a community in Shiroro Local Government Area, Niger State, on Tuesday.
Several members of the vigilante group, including its leader, were also injured in the bombing, locals said.
The vigilante members were bombed as they were preparing to counter an attack against terrorists who had earlier attacked their community.
A community leader said that during the attack, several villagers were kidnapped and several herds of cattle were rustled.
The community leader, who asked not to be named for security reasons, confirmed the incident over the phone.
“It is unbelievable. As of now, I cannot say how many people were killed, but I know they are many,”
“It is the vigilante men that have been protecting us against these bandits and now that many of them have been killed, we are at the mercy of the gunmen,” the source added.
The state’s Commissioner for Internal Security and Humanitarian Affairs, Emmanuel Umar, confirmed the incident but did not confirm the number of those killed or wounded.
“Government is already on top of the incident as we are battling with the survivors and injured and how to restore peace to the area,” the commissioner added.
Neither the Nigerian army nor the air force has commented on the air raid. However, the air force has regularly carried out air raids in the state to target terrorists operating in rural communities. Sometimes, civilians, including children, fall victim to such raids which are then covered up by the authorities.
Tuesday’s incident happened barely three days after three persons were killed and three others abducted in Gwada town, in the same local government area.
Niger, in north-central Nigeria, is one of the states most troubled by terror groups, locally called bandits. The groups have killed thousands of people and kidnapped many more, mostly in rural communities of the affected northern states.
Other states affected by the banditry include Kebbi, Katsina, Zamfara and Kaduna.