The killing of 42 persons on Thursday by suspected armed herdsmen in Katsina-Ala and Gwer West Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Benue State is sparking widespread public outrage and mounting tension in the State.
The public anger arose as the corpses of 36 of the victims were recovered in Katsina-Ala while six others were recovered in Gwer West LGA.
Last week, over 100 people were killed by the herdsmen in four Council Wards of the same Katsina-Ala LGA.
Sources said that several persons were injured while some are missing as the herdsmen, 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.”
For the attack in Gwer West LGA, sources said it took place at Tinader community on Makurdi-Naka road on Thursday evening.
The criminals, after attacking the Tinader community reportedly took over the major road, attacking unsuspecting motorists.
And apart from the killings, the criminals, who invaded the communities in the LGA from neighboring Nasarawa State, also sacked several communities and roadside traders located on the Makurdi-Naka stretch of the road.
According to the source, “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.”
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.
The Benue State Police Public Relations Officer, Deputy Superintendent (DSP) Catherine Anene, who confirmed the attack and killings in Gwer West LGA said he was yet to receive 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.
This story first appeared in Vanguard, https://www.vanguardngr.com/2021/05/breaking-fear-as-herdsmen-kill-42-in-benue/