- Army arrests armed herders in Benue
Mohammed Aminu in Gusau, Daji Sani in Yola and Paul Obi in Abuja
Barely 48 hours after a twin bomb blast rocked a mosque in Mubi town, resulting in the deaths of over 60 people, 15 persons have been reportedly killed by armed herdsmen in four villages in Numan and Lamurde Local Government Areas of Adamawa State.
This came as at least 13 persons were reportedly killed in clashes between suspected cattle rustlers and a vigilante group in Fankashi village of Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State.
Reports from the affected areas in Adamawa State indicated that the herdsmen in huge numbers stormed the villages in Hilux trucks and killed about 15 people and burnt down the four villages of Bolki, Bang, Zumoso and Gon.
According to eyewitnesses, the herdsmen were reported to have arrived the communities on Wednesday, killing and burning down property worth millions of naira.
A source said the herdsmen could not be stopped by military personnel who arrived in two Hilux trucks but were forced to retreat on sighting the huge number of attackers.
The source added that two Nigerian Air Force fighter jets flew over the town during the attacks but refused to engage the herdsmen.
The death toll from the attack was expected to rise as locals said the herdsmen pursued villagers who tried to escape through the river and bodies were yet to be recovered from the river.
Locals lamented that despite all efforts at peace through a series of meetings between the herdsmen and the farmers in the communities on the need for the two warring groups to sheath their swords, it seems the herdsmen are reneging on the deal.
They said they were tired of the same story where they had agreed to a truce, only for the herdsmen to â€œattack from nowhere and embark on a killing spree.â€
Adamawa is faced with the onslaught of the Boko Haram insurgency in its Northern senatorial zone and the gruesome killings by herdsmen in the Southern senatorial zone which have worsened the hardship and suffering of citizens in the state.
Attempts to speak to the spokesman of the state police command proved abortive at the time of filing this report.
In Zamfara State, Fankashi village was said to have been attacked by the bandits, resulting in the fight with the vigilante group in the area, who were armed with locally-made guns.
THISDAY gathered that the vigilante group and rustlers were said to have been involved in a gun battle from Tuesday till Wednesday.
The Police Public Relations Officer of the Zamfara Command, Mohammed Shehu, confirmed the incident to journalists thursday.
He said no fewer than 13 people lost their lives in the gun battle.
Shehu further stated that the bodies had been recovered by police officers deployed to the village.
â€œOur men recovered 13 dead bodies from the criminal gang and members of the vigilante group from the village after the fight,â€ Shehu said.
Shehu added that reinforcements were later sent to the area to ensure safety of the villagers.
Rural communities in Zamfara have been under siege for several years from cattle rustlers and kidnapping gangs, who have raided herding communities, killing, looting and burning homes.
To defend themselves, villages formed vigilante groups, but they too were accused of extra-judicial killings and provoking a bloody cycle of retaliatory attacks.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army thursday said it arrested a herdsman in Guma Local Government Area of Benue with ammunition.
The arrest came amid continuous killing of indigenes of Guma Local Government Area by herdsmen.
Seven Tiv indigenes were killed this week after two Catholic priests, 17 worshippers and 34 persons were killed by herdsmen in the local government.
Speaking on the arrest, Director of Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen. Texas Chukwu, explained that â€œtroops of 72 Special Forces Battalion deployed in Operation MESA while on patrol to Adagu village in Guma Local Government Area of Benue State arrested one militia herdsman, Idi Gemu.
â€œItems recovered include, one AK 47 rifle with three rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition.â€
Chukwu added that â€œefforts are on to arrest other members of the group who fled the area following the superior fire power of the troops.
â€œMembers of the public are once again reminded to report any suspicious activities to the security agents,â€ he stated.