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Gunmen killed more than 150 people in northern Nigeria this week in a series of attacks described as the worst violence the West African country has seen this year, CBS News reported Wednesday.

Armed assailants on motorcycles attacked a group of villages in the northern Plateau state over the weekend. Witnesses said the attackers also torched more than 100 houses and a cell phone tower.

Some survivors said women and children were also kidnapped, but it’s unclear how many were abducted.

President Muhammadu Buhari vowed there will be “no mercy” for the attackers and urged residents to “expose the perpetrators of such incidents, their sponsors and those who encourage such criminals who carry out these dastardly acts of murder.”

Criminal gangs – locally known as bandits – from the neighboring Kaduna state are believed to have been responsible for the attacks. Analysts noted that the bandits have become bolder in recent years, with killings and kidnappings spiking in the region, according to Al Jazeera.

In late March, such bandits blew up a train traveling from Nigeria’s capital to Kaduna state, killing eight people and kidnapping dozens more. Last week, gunmen killed a dozen soldiers during an attack at an army base in Kaduna.

Nigeria’s security situation remains dangerous as security forces are currently fighting a 12-year jihadist insurgency in the country’s northeast. Since 2009, that conflict has displaced more than two million people and killed more than 40,000.

Meanwhile, the Northern Elders Forum, a council of local leaders, called on Buhari to resign immediately, claiming that the president has failed to address killings, kidnappings, and overall insecurity in the country during his seven years in power.

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