At least 23 passengers, including children, were burnt to death when their bus was ambushed by gunmen suspected to be bandits in Sokoto State, police have said.
They were travelling from the town of Sabon Birni to the town of Isa near the border with Niger.
Sokoto police command spokesperson, Sanusi Abubakar, told the BBC that several others are being treated in a hospital for severe burns.
Some reports suggest the number of those killed is around 30.
One of those involved in evacuating the casualties described the scene as “horrendous” and that most of the victims were burnt beyond recognition.
The attack happened late on Monday but details are just emerging due to poor communication services in the area.
Some reports say the attackers deliberately set the vehicle on fire burning the occupants alive while another account indicates the fire ignited on the bus as a result of the attackers’ gunfire.
The police say they are investigating the circumstances of the attack.
Muhammad Bello, the spokesman to Aminu Tambuwal, Governor of Sokoto State, confirmed the development in a statement on Wednesday.
“Contrary to speculations that over 40 people lost their lives in a bandits attack on a 42-seater bus traveling to Kaduna on Monday, facts have emerged that 23 people lost their lives during an attack at Gidan Bawa village in Isa local government area of Sokoto state,” the statement read.
“Security chiefs in Sokoto state, comprising heads of the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air Force, the Nigeria Police, Department of State Security and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps as well as the Chairmen of Isa and Sabon Birni local government areas had briefed the state Governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, on the incident at the Government House, Sokoto, Wednesday, pledging to work with it on modalities to checkmate future occurrences.”
While commiserating with the families of the victims, the state government added that strategies are being put in place to prevent a reoccurrence.
Travellers are frequently targeted as the region continues to grapple with a wave of violence by armed gangs carrying out kidnappings for ransom as well as killings.
Additional reporting from the BBC and TheCable