No fewer than 66 persons were on Wednesday night killed in Benue and Taraba states by gunmen suspected to be herdsmen, with the attacks continuing yesterday.
Scores of others were also killed in Zamfara communities, following a midnight attack by suspected herdsmen. While 41, according to residents, were reportedly killed in separate attacks on communities in Logo and Ukum local government areas of Benue State, 25 were slaughtered at Jandeikyula village in Wukari Local Government Area of Taraba State.
The killings in Taraba prompted the governor, Darius Ishaku, to align with former Chief of Army Staff and Defence Minister, Lt. General T.Y. Danjuma, asking the people to rise and defend themselves.
The residents in the Benue communities also said the death toll may rise sharply in the coming hours, as more bodies were still being removed from nearby bushes. Among the injured victims of the latest attack was 70-year-old Mama Uhaen Ndiisaa, mother of a former chairman of Logo Local Government Area, Mr. Terhemen Ndiisaa, of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. The latest attacks came a day after 15 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. He said 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,’’ he said. ‘’When they arrived at about 6:00 p.m. in Jande-Ikyura in Ukum Local Government Area, the gunmen appeared determined to wipe out the entire community, said another resident of the area who said he had been to the village yesterday morning to witness the aftermath. Jande-Ikyura is a border community between Ukum LGA in Benue and Wukari Local Government Area in Taraba State.
“It was like they wanted to be sure that all the villagers were killed before they would run back to their hideouts. They killed 22 people who were living there,’’ said 48-year-old Isaac Ihiev. 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 that falls under Wukari LGA in Taraba State. He said efforts were underway to find the missing people. In his account, Terhemen Ndiisaa told Vanguard on phone: “The herdsmen attacked my community, Igboughur Mbavuur, in Logo Local Government, last night around 10pm, killing two persons. “This time, they did not burn down houses but resorted to breaking into people’s houses but luckily many were able to flee and escape after they heard the sporadic gunshots in the community.
“Unfortunately, my mother was shot while she was fleeing but she is still alive and many others also sustained injuries. “As we speak, our people are packing out of our villages and communities and fleeing to any safe place but the truth is that nowhere is safe for now because we cannot tell the next target.” Also speaking, a former aide of the former governor of the state, whose community was affected in the latest attack, said the group which attacked Igbougher Mbavuur also struck at Tse-Wadr, killing three persons.
“We suspect that the same gang which attacked Igbougher Mbavuur were responsible for the early morning attack on Tse-Wadr in the same Logo local government where they sacked the community and killed three persons, leaving scores with injuries around 5am today (yesterday).
“As we speak, there is palpable fear and tension in several communities of Logo local government, especially those bordering River Benue and Nasarawa State, from where the invaders come to attack our communities. “Usually, they cross River Benue from Nasarawa State to attack, after which they beat a retreat in a guerrilla fashion.