An armed gang has attacked a mosque in northern Nigeria and kidnapped dozens of people.

Worshipers in the village of Maigamji in Katsina state had gathered peacefully for evening prayers on Saturday when attackers stormed the place of worship and shouted at visitors to follow them.

Claudia Bröll

Political correspondent for Africa based in Cape Town.

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As people ran in different directions, the attackers fired directly at the fleeing people, an eyewitness reported to the Nigerian newspaper Premium Times.

First they kidnapped 19 people.

However, vigilantes nearby followed them and managed to free six hostages.

A police spokesman confirmed the robbery.

Northern Nigeria repeatedly shaken by attacks

The imam and one other person were injured and were being treated in hospital.

The police and vigilantes together saved the six people.

The north of Nigeria is repeatedly shaken by attacks by terrorists and bandits, kidnappings are mostly used to extort ransom money.

The gangs also often demand protection money from villagers.

Nigeria's President, Muhammadu Buhari, had promised more security for the citizens at the beginning of his term in office.

Now he is under increasing pressure to demonstrate success.

A new president will be elected in Nigeria in February.