Repentant Bandits in Zamfara are Offered two cows for Par AK-47

Repentant bandits in Nigeria’s north-western state of Zamfara are being offered two cows for every AK-47 they surrender to the state government.

It is an attempt to encourage them to give up a life of crime and live a normal life as responsible citizens, Zamfara Governor Bello Matawalle said.

Motorcycle-riding armed bandits have been terrorising the state.Cows are valued by the Fulani herder community who have been accused of being behind a wave of attacks.

However, members of the community have repeatedly rejected the allegations saying that they too were victims.

An average cow in northern Nigeria costs about 100,000 naira ($260; £200) while an AK-47 on the black market could cost as much as 500,000 naira ($1,200; £950), the BBC’s Mansur Abubakar reports.

The attackers who operate out of abandoned forest reserves have also been ransacking communities in nearby states.

They often loot shops, steal cattle and grain, and take people hostage for ransom.

In a recent attack in Zamfara, 21 people were killed in Talata Mafara town by armed bandits.

In the last decade more than 8,000 people have been killed in the states of Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara and neighbouring country Niger, according to the International Crisis Group.

The attacks are rooted in decades-long competition over resources between ethnic Fulani herders and farming communities.