By PETER DURU
MAKURDI—No fewer than 21 women and children were confirmed to have been slaughtered weekend by alleged Fulani mercenaries who sacked six Tiv villages in a renewed attack on Gwer West Local Government Area of Benue State.
The Local Government Chairman, Mr. Andrew Ayande, who made this known in an interview with Vanguard at Naka, however, said he suspected the influence of Boko Haram fundamentalists in the attack.
He said the mercenaries who stormed the Tiv communities in their hundreds, launched the attack from neighbouring Nasarawa State, adding that the attackers were demanding N10 million ransom for four persons who they reportedly kidnapped during the attack, which he described as barbaric, wicked and heart- rendering.
Ayande, who fought back tears as he spoke, said the invaders stormed the communities in a commando fashion, killed, destroyed and maimed any living object they came across.
He said: ”The most pathetic aspect of the attack was the beheading of a three-month-old baby that the mercenaries snatched from her mother, after asking the nursing mother to run into a burning hut, but luckily she escaped after the attackers mistook her for dead.”
While lamenting the extent of the carnage, Ayande disclosed that prior to the weekend attack on the people, he had held several meetings with the leaders of the Fulani herdsmen who had promised to ensure peaceful coexistence with their host communities.
According to him, “The promise was just a ploy by the Fulani to let my people off their guard in order to unleash this devastating attack on them.
”Their is an element of Boko Haram in what is happening; their mission is to occupy our communities and use it as a launch pad in the state.”
He said most of the surviving victims of the attack were currently taking refuge in neighbouring communities where the local government council and the state government have made arrangements to provide relief materials for their up keep.
Meanwhile, Ayande has said that the State Government had ensured the re-enforcement of security in the area to forestall further bloodshed.