Lagos, Mar 3 (AP) Bandits have killed dozens of people in attacks on five villages in northern Nigeria, officials and witnesses said.

The Kaduna state commissioner for security, Samuel Aruwan, said in a statement that bandits attacked the Igabi and Giwa areas on Sunday.

In the village of Kerawa, where the highest death toll was recorded, 41 corpses were buried, said Aruwan.

Although he did not give the total death toll, residents said more than 50 people were killed. The bandits also burned several houses and looted properties, Aruba Garba from Zariyawa village told The Associated Press.

"Thousands of people have fled," he said late Monday.

The incident comes about two weeks after bandits killed 31 people in neighbouring Katsina state.

Scores of people have been killed in recent years by the well-armed bandits who kidnap people for ransom and also raid villages to steal cows in Nigeria's northern states.

"This banditry should be declared an insurgency and they should be fought in the same way as the Boko Haram," said Nasir El-Rufai, governor of Kaduna state said after he visited the scene of the latest incident. (AP)

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