(CNN)Dozens of people were killed in a spate of attacks in northwestern Nigeria suspected to have been carried out by militia groups targeting communities in the southern Kaduna state, local government officials told CNN.
Dozens killed in fresh wave of violence in Nigeria
The sporadic attacks have gripped the region since January and caused the displacement of hundreds of residents, according to human rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), which has a base in Kaduna.
"At least 27 people were killed within a 24-hour period between 19 and 20 July in attacks by armed assailants of Fulani ethnicity on communities in southern Kaduna state," CSW said.
"The attacks are a part of a campaign of violence targeting communities in southern Kaduna which has been ongoing since January 2020, and is characterised by murder, looting, rape, abductions for ransom and forced displacement," the group added.
Dr. Elias Manza, chairperson of the Zango Kataf local government area in Kaduna state, told CNN that the region had been targeted by militants in at least three separate attacks across the last month.
"We suspect Fulani militia for these attacks...the people of the village said they identified some of the attackers to be the Fulanis," he said.
In a statement, the chief operating officer of CSW, Scot Bower, warned that Nigeria's "increasing security vacuum" could pose a threat to the entire region, with concerns growing over potential Boko Haram attacks.
"It is deeply disturbing that perpetrators continue to operate with impunity," Bower said Wednesday.
"The failure or unwillingness of those in authority to address these and other non-state actors and to secure ungoverned spaces has not only allowed the violence to mutate but has also created an environment in which Boko Haram can extend its operations," he added.
Hundreds of women in southern Kaduna protested the wave of killings during a demonstration on Thursday. Many were dressed in black or protested semi-nude.
"We protested at the palace of our King because, since the curfew was imposed by the government, Fulani herdsmen have been coming in to attack our communities," protest leader Ruth Habila told CNN.
"The government is not helping us. We love the Fulanis, but they are killings us. We also love our governor, but he has abandoned us," she added.