Gunmen armed with rifles and machetes have attacked a rural village in northern Nigeria, killing at least 10 people, including worshippers leaving a mosque after prayers.
The attack happened in Dogon Dawa, a village in the pasturelands of Kaduna state where police and security forces maintain only a light presence. The number of dead could be higher as emergency responders acknowledged that estimates of those killed in the attacks varied wildly.
A rescue official in the state who lives near the village said the attacks began in the early morning under the cover of darkness, with as many as 50 gunmen surrounding the village and its surrounding farmlands.
The majority of those killed appeared to be leaving the village's main mosque after the early call to prayers, the official said.
Even the reasons for the attack remained unclear. The emergency official said locals blamed a gang of robbers who recently arrived from neighbouring Zamfara state and had begun attacking villages and robbing people along the road.
Dogon Dawa had formed a local vigilante committee to patrol their area and that group and the robbers had been killing each other over the course of the last weeks, the official said.
"This time around they decided to launch a reprisal attack," the official said.
However, activist Shehu Sani, who leads the Kaduna-based Civil Rights Congress, said it appeared the attack was between Muslim farmers and Muslim nomadic cattlemen who graze in the area. Tensions and violence spring up between the two groups over land rights, though not often with such an intensity.
"The spasm of violence and senseless bloodshed in the northern parts of Nigeria has reached an alarming and unacceptable level," Sani said.
Kaduna state sits on the fault line running between Nigeria's largely Christian south and Muslim north, where mass killings and violence have occurred over the last decade.