Dozens of motorcycle assailants attacked seven neighboring villages in Danko-Wasagu district on Thursday, Kebbi state police spokesman Nafiu Abubakar said.
“We have established that 66 people were killed in the attacks,” which targeted the villages of Koro, Kimpi, Gaya, Dimi, Zutu, Rafin Gora and Iguenge, Abubakar said.
“The investigation is still ongoing to determine the extent of the destruction caused by the bandits and the search for more bodies continues,” he added.
Police were deployed to the area to prevent further attacks as residents of the affected villages fled their homes, Abubakar said.
The attackers are believed to have launched the attacks from neighboring states of Zamfara or Niger, where criminals are known to maintain camps.
In April, nine policemen were killed in the area in a shootout with gunmen who invaded a village in the nearby Sakaba district to steal cattle, Abubakar told AFP at the time.
Northwest and central Nigeria are a hub for criminal gangs of cattle thieves raiding villages, killing and abducting residents for ransom after looting and burning houses.
The gangs, called bandits by the locals, maintain camps in the Rugu forest, which straddles the states of Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna and Niger.
Driven by financial motives, the criminals are not ideologically inclined, but there is growing concern that they are being infiltrated by jihadists from the northeast who are waging a 12-year insurgency to establish an Islamic state.
Gangs have recently stepped up attacks on schools, kidnapping hundreds of students to obtain ransoms from authorities and parents.