By Peter Duru, Makurdi
A traditional ruler, Chief Tersoo Mbagir, and 30 others, including mourners, were feared dead in a bloody weekend attack on Tongov village close to Amaafu town and Mbasar Gasema community in Katsian/Ala local government area of Benue State.
Sunday Vanguard gathered from a source, who claimed he lost a close friend in the attack, that the armed attackers, allegedly linked to a militia, stormed Mbasar Gasema community, less than a kilometer from Katsina/Ala town, in the early hours yesterday and killed their victims in their homes.
“They are the same militia gang who have been attacking our people over the years. They carried out the dastardly act early Saturday morning”, he said.
“This time they came when the people were fast asleep around 2am and started killing their innocent victims. It was the cry and wailing from the people’s homes that attracted the attention of Chief Tersoo Mbagir, my former classmate who was also our tax collector.
“He went out to find out what was happening in his community and on his way he was ambushed by the militia and killed alongside four others while some also sustained injuries.
“The same armed gang, numbering about 12, moved on motorbikes from Mbasar Gasema community and besieged Tongov community, close to Amaafu, where a wake-keep for a burial ceremony of one Tor was going on and killed about 25 persons though that figure may increase because many people are still missing and unaccounted for while some sustained serious injuries.
“So, as I speak, Katsina/Ala is in deep mourning, and the people are apprehensive because nobody knows where will be the next target of this dreaded militia gang.
“Most of the lecturers at the College of Education Katsina/Ala have moved out of town to neighbouring communities while some have relocated to Gboko and Makurdi from where they go to work daily for fear of being attacked and killed at night”.
Confirming the attack, Katsina/Ala local government Caretaker Chairman, Mrs. Virginia Kpinbi, however said that the number of deaths might not be as high as being rumoured by people in the affected communities.
When contacted, Benue State Police Commissioner, Mr. Mukaddas Garba, who confirmed the attack, said the police had record of four deaths stressing that investigation into the matter was ongoing.