It has been reported that as many as twenty-eight persons have perished in overnight attacks in Benue and Taraba communities.
According to a report by Premium Times, armed intruders have struck again in Benue and Taraba, two of the troubled states experiencing deadly attacks and destruction of properties in central Nigeria, killing 26 villagers in simultaneous assaults overnight, residents and officials have revealed.
Four residents informed Premium Times in separate exchanges on Thursday morning that the killings occurred in two communities in Logo Local Government Area, Benue State, and Wukari Local Government Area, Taraba State.
The attacks come a day after 10 people were killed by gunmen said to be wearing military uniform.
“The first attack happened in Tse Hwer in Ukemberyge/Tsweray Council Ward in Logo Local Government around 6:30 p.m. to this morning,” said a senior state government official who did not want to be named, saying he had been warned by federal authorities for talking to the media in the past.“Some people are saying their families are missing, but we haven’t been able to confirm how many exactly.”
The victims were said to be two men and one woman.
When they arrived at about 6:00 p.m. in Jendeikura in Wukari Local Government Area, the gunmen appeared determined to wipe out the entire community, said a resident of the area who said he had been to the village this morning to witness the aftermath.
“It was like they wanted to be sure that all the villagers were killed before they would run back to their hideouts,” said 48-year-old Isaac Ihiev. “They killed 22 people who were living there.”
Mr Ihiev said three of the attackers who were killed when some youth responded to the assault were found in military uniform.
“Three of them were killed and they dressed like soldiers when their bodies were moved out from the bush,” Mr Ihiev said, adding that he lives in a nearby village,
He said efforts are now underway to find missing people, as at 11:48 a.m. Thursday.
According to Premium Times, the claims could not be independently verified as at 1:00 p.m. Thursday, but they have a history of raising alarms about their ordeal that would later be corroborated by security agencies.
David Akinremi, the police commissioner in Taraba, and his Benue counterpart, Fatai Owoseni, did not immediately return requests for comments about the attacks early Thursday afternoon.
Emmanuel Bello, a spokesperson for Governor Darius Ishaku, said news of the killings had spread to Jalingo, Taraba State capital.
He, however, said he didn’t have all the details as yet. He said a military panel probing alleged complicity by soldiers in the ongoing killings has arrived the state and is sitting today in Jalingo.
The killings come two weeks after the Nigerian Army ended ‘Exercise Ayem Akpatuma’ and withdrew troops from the villages in Benue, Kogi and Taraba, despite pleas from residents that doing so would expose them to wanton killings by gunmen.
Although the Army denied withdrawing the troops, residents across three states insist there is no evidence to show that the exercise was extended as announced, and Premium Times requests to the Army for the location of the troops participating in the exercise were rebuffed.
The residents, including a local government chairman, told Premium Times the troops left their villages on March 31, exactly the same day the exercise was initially billed to end.