No fewer than 10 persons have been feared killed and scores injured when suspected herdsmen on Wednesday night attacked some communities in Gwer-West Local Council of Benue State.
According to sources, the assailants invaded Mbapa, Mbapupuu, Mbachohon and Enger settlements in Agagbe District of the council area in a gorilla warfare fashion at about 11p.m., killing farmers and residents in their sleep.
Survivors Aondoakaa Basil, Torkebbi Yubee and Msughter Anzwa told reporters that people had fled their homes following the invasion.
Basil said they were woken by screaming and gunshots, noting: “We were sleeping when we heard sudden screaming and gunshots. I immediately woke up and grabbed my two children and wife and escaped through the bush.
“We could not carry anything because the attack was sudden. There was confusion everywhere because of the sporadic gunshots by the herdsmen.”
The Guardian observed that the neighbouring villages had been deserted for fear of attacks.
But the State Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, said the attack was carried out by bandits who attempted to abduct some persons resulting in the death of two.
He added that the highly mobile cattle rustlers, who were chased away from Zamfara, were inflicting pains on the people using the farmers/herdsmen’s crisis as smokescreen.
His words: “We have not witnessed any case of attack on Gwer-West communities by herdsmen. What we have was abduction where two persons were killed by some armed bandits.
“From intelligence report we have, some armed marauders with connections and highly visible in cattle rustling and trans-border criminal activities are operating in the state.
“We have been monitoring the group which has a network of informants within the state, among the locals and of course, herders who specialise in rustling.
“Some of them are criminal elements chased from Zamfara and of course, some foreigners.”
In a related development, unknown gunmen in the early hours of yesterday killed two persons at Asso community in Jema’a council area of Kaduna State. The victims were reportedly ambushed while returning to their village after taking a sick relation to a hospital in Kafanchan.
Efforts to confirm the incident from the state police command were futile, as the force public relations officer (PPRO), ASP Aliyu Mukhtar, neither took nor returned the calls put to his mobile phone as at press time.
But the member representing Jema/Sanga Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Nicholas Shehu Garba, confirmed the incident to newsmen, saying: “This will be the third time that an attack will be carried out from the uncompleted Asso bridge.”
He went on: “This unfortunate incident is coming less than a week after the killings at Bakin Kogi in Kaninkon chiefdom where six persons were brutally murdered by unknown gunmen.
“That these attacks are being perpetrated in the absence of any provocation and despite the presence of security personnel within the vicinity are an affirmation that a silent war has been declared on our communities by agents of darkness.
“I am calling on the Kaduna State government to show more than passive interest in these attacks.
“I am also appealing to the military task force based in Kafanchan to work harder to fish out these agents of darkness.
“Until the state is able to fish out, expose and punish the perpetrators of these heinous crimes, for so long will these criminals continue on their path of perfidy.
“To our communities, one cannot over-emphasise the necessity for eternal vigilance.
“My condolences to the bereaved families and my dear community, Asso, that has become the latest victim of yet another attack.”