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Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari arrives to attend the inauguration of Lagos Rail Mass Transit Blue line at Marina station in Lagos on Jan. 24.PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images

At least 41 people were killed when gunmen clashed with a vigilante group in Nigeria’s northern Katsina state, the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari, a police spokesperson said on Friday, the latest violence ahead of a presidential vote.

Insecurity has become widespread and a major concern for voters ahead of a Feb. 25 election to choose new members of parliament and a successor to Buhari, a former military ruler who came to power eight years ago promising to end insecurity.

Katsina state police spokesperson Gambo Isah said an armed gang, known locally as bandits, attacked a village in Katsina’s Bakori local government area, rustled cattle and sheep and fled into the bush.

Isah said a local vigilante group mobilized and pursued the gunmen which led to the clash on Thursday.

Two security sources put the death toll at 50 and said the corpses were only recovered on Friday in the bush and along with those injured, were taken to Kankara hospital in the state.

“A joint security operations is currently ongoing with a view to bringing the perpetrators to book,” Isah said.

Katsina is one of the northern states hardest hit by armed gangs who attack and kidnap people from villages and highways in remote parts of the region where security forces are stretched.

Katsina special adviser on security Ibrahim Ahmed said communities were discouraged to take the law into their hands as it would lead to deadly consequences.

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