At least 40 people are missing after gunmen raided a town in the north-west Nigerian state of Zamfara on Friday.
Officials said they feared the villagers were being held hostage by armed gangs following the attack on the town of Rini.
Eyewitnesses said the attackers stormed the town an hour after midnight, shooting sporadically and sending people running for safety.
At daybreak, people started searching for their relatives.
A spokesman for the Zamfara state government, Ibrahim Dosara, told the BBC that members of the security services were working with residents in the area to find out exactly how many people were missing.
He said a search had been launched for the attackers and their hostages.
This comes barely a week after gunmen kidnapped 15 students and four members of staff from a college in the same state. They demanded a ransom of about $850,000 (£620,000) for their release.
Two security guards and a police officer were killed in the raid on the Agriculture College in the Bakura area.
Kidnapping for ransom is on the rise across Nigeria and the violence has overstretched the country’s security forces.