The unidentified assailants arrived at Maigamji mosque on motorbikes on Saturday night, and started shooting sporadically, which forced worshipers to flee, a resident of Funtua told Reuters by phone.
About 12 people, who were attending night prayers, were caught in the gunfire and killed, including the chief imam, the resident said.
“They then gathered many people and took them to the bush. I’m praying that the bandits release the innocent people they abducted,” another resident of Funtua said.
Katsina state police spokesman Gambo Isah confirmed the attack, saying state-backed vigilantes, with the support of some residents, had managed to rescue some worshippers.
Armed gangs have spread a reign of terror across the volatile northwest over the years, carrying out kidnappings of hundreds of school children and villagers.
Northwestern states of Nigeria have long been battered by violence, including clashes over land between rival communities, attacks by heavily-armed criminal gangs, and reprisal killings by vigilante groups.
Gangs of thieves and kidnappers have long been terrorizing communities in the region, where they raid schools, mosques, and markets, besides killing and burning buildings after looting them.
More than 30,000 people have been killed in over a decade of terrorism in Nigeria instigated by the Takfiri terrorist Boko Haram Takfiri group. The reign of terror has spilled over into neighboring Chad, Niger, and Cameroon and has forced more than two million people to flee their homes.