Suspected cattle thieves in north-western Nigeria have killed at least 17 police officers in one of the deadliest incidents for the police in several years.
The clashes followed an ambush on a police patrol convoy in a remote area of Zamfara state where armed cattle rustlers frequently attack villages, carrying out mass killings and abductions as well as stealing livestock.
One officer was known to have died in the initial encounter near the village of Birnin-Magaji on Thursday.
Police say the bodies of 16 other officers were found during a search-and-rescue operation that went on for several days.
Twenty other officers were rescued and more than 100 gunmen killed, the police said.
Hundreds of cattle and sheep were also recovered from the bandits, the force added.
The government has deployed ground troops, the air force and the police to Zamfara state to quell the growing threats of armed cattle thieves.
Recent months have been disastrous for the security personnel trying to tackle the country’s multiple security challenges ahead of crucial general elections due to take place in February.
Dozens of soldiers have been killed in the north-east of the country in several attacks on their bases by suspected Islamist militants.