At least 130 people have been kidnapped by gunmen in Nigeria’s north-western state of Zamfara, a local official has told the BBC.
Gunmen on motorcycles raided two areas taking women, children and the elderly, Ibrahim Dosara, the state’s information commissioner, said.
Security forces have been deployed to rescue the victims.
Zamfara is among several Nigerian states grappling with kidnapping for ransom.
The kidnapping happened over the weekend in Zurmi and Kauran-Namoda areas, Mr Dosara said.
The gunmen were using the victims as ”human shields” because of the ongoing ”heavy bombardments” of their hideouts, he added.
Some reports say the people abducted are farm workers who were busy during the harvesting season.
In some areas of the north-west region, gangs have reportedly imposed levies on farmers as a condition of allow ing them to harvest their crops unhindered.
Efforts by the Nigerian government to end insecurity in the region have mostly failed. Families of kidnap victims have often ignored the official advice and paid ransom as demanded.
Insecurity is one of the key campaign issues ahead of Nigeria’s general elections in February next year when a successor to President Muhammadu Buhari will be chosen.