By Peter Duru, Makurdi
There is widespread public outrage and mounting tension in Benue state as no fewer than 42 persons were Thursday reportedly killed by suspected armed herdsmen in Katsina-Ala and Gwer West Local Government Areas, LGAs of Benue state.
Findings indicated that 36 of the victims whose corpses have been recovered were killed in Katsina-Ala while six others were murdered Gwer West LGA.
The attack which left several persons injured and some also missing is coming on the heels of a similar attack which claimed over 100 lives in four Council Wards of the same Katsina-Ala LGA last week.
Saturday Vanguard gathered from sources in the areas affected that the marauders who my have been assisted by local militia gang loyal to the late Terwase Agwaza alias Gana invaded Shikaan Mbagena Kpaleve community in Shitile axis of Katsina-Ala LGA where 36 persons were reportedly killed.
According to the source in Katsina-Ala, “we suspect that the armed herders who may have been assisted by Gana’s men stormed the area in their numbers at about midnight shooting sporadically and butchering anyone they caught up with.
“In their usual manner, the attackers operated for about 15 minutes after which they pulled out and 36 persons were found dead, must of them were butchered like animals which is their usual style of killing their victims.
“Though people are saying that some of the victims were students of the College of Education Katsina-Ala but it has not been confirmed by the school authorities and no one has also has ascertained the number of students involved, if any,” the source said.
Meanwhile the attack in Gwer West reportedly occurred at Tinader community on Makurdi-Naka road Thursday evening. The marauders after attacking the community reportedly took over the major road and waylaid unsuspecting motorists.
A source in the area disclosed that the invaders who stormed the communities in the LGA from neighboring Nasarawa state have also succeeded in sacking several communities and roadside traders located on the Makurdi-Naka stretch of the road.
“They killed five persons including a driver of one of the commercial vehicles plying the Makurdi-Otukpo road via Naka and abducted a mother and son who were on their way to Makurdi from Otukpo.
“As we speak that road which is a major link to Makurdi from the Benue south district or Idoma speaking areas of the state has been abandoned and people are fleeing their ancestral land,” he said.
Confirming the development, Chairman of Gwer West LGA, Mrs. Grace Igbabon said aside the five killed Thursday evening another young man was killed at Mbakpa community during a gun exchange between the youths of the community and armed herders.
“The gun exchange happened this (Friday) morning. The armed herders stormed the community as they used to and the youths withstood them and there was an exchange unfortunately a young man was killed but they successfully repelled the invaders.
“We have already reported the matter to security agencies who sent their personnel to the affected areas,” Mrs. Igbabon said.
Efforts to get the comment of the Chairman of Katsina-Ala LGA, Mr. Alfred Atera was unsuccessful as calls put to his cellphone were not responded to.
When contacted, the Police Public Officer, Deputy Superintendent, DSP, Catherine Anene who confirmed the attack and killings in Gwer West LGA said he was yet to receiving details of the Katsina-Ala attack from the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, in charge of the area.
“Because of the terrain of Katsina-Ala the DPO has not been able to get back to me but I am still waiting to get details from him after which I will avail Journalists information on the incident,” Anene said.