Herdsmen Attacks: Death Toll Rises to 46 in Benue, Taraba

George Okoh in Makurdi and Wole Ayodele in Jalingo

The death toll of Easter Sunday’s attack on Kwentwen, a community in Ussa Local Government Area, Taraba State by suspected Fulani militia yesterday increased to 24.

Likewise, the number of casualties of Thursday’s attack on communities in Kwande and Gwer West Local Government Areas (LGAs), Benue State by armed herdsmen rose from 20 to 22.

The figures were revealed yesterday respectively by the Chairman of Ussa LGA, Rimansikwen Karma during a telephone conversation with THISDAY and in the list of the victims released by the Chairman of Gwer West Traditional Council, Chief Daniel Abomste.

In conversation with THISDAY yesterday, Karma revealed that 10 persons sustained serious injuries in the attack, which occurred at about 4.00am on Easter Sunday.

Although the Taraba State Command described the attackers as unknown gunmen, Karma insisted that they were Fulani herdsmen, who were heard by survivors of the attack saying, “kill all of them and let us see how they will continue to kill cows.”

He, however, urged security agencies to halt further attacks on the community by the militia group, saying the group had threatened to sustain the attack on the communities in the local council.

He lamented that the activities of the militia group “has become a serious threat to the people of the area. With the deployment of security personnel to the area after Sunday’s attack, the group has resorted to gorilla attacks.”

On the root cause of the attack, Karma stated that there was a clash between farmers and herders in the area some years back during which the Fulani’s claimed that their cows were killed.

He said: “They claimed they wrote a petition claiming that their cows were killed during the clash but I am not aware of any petition as I’m talking to you today. Based on an intelligence report, we learnt they are regrouping around Kangana in Bali LGA and somewhere around the Benue border to launch a fresh attack.

“We just finished burying 24 persons they killed in the early hours of Sunday while we were battling to save the lives of those that sustained machete injury. I have names of 10 injured persons, though there are insinuations that they are more than 30.”

Abomste, the Ter Tyochin, released the list of all those who lost their lives in the attacks that occurred in Benue communities, saying two more bodies had been recovered from the scenes of the attack in his domain.

After the attacks, 12 bodies were recovered from the affected communities in Gwer West and eight others were found in Kwande LGAs.

In his statement yesterday, the monarch confirmed that the districts or council wards affected in the attack were Mbapa and Mbabuande.

He said the communities directed affected “are Tse-Ibe where nine persons were killed. Two persons were murdered in Tse-Achai; one was killed in Katsa while Tse-Mkem recorded two deaths.

“From Mbapa district the following persons were murdered; Hembazan Nyitamen, Simon Shenge, Msugh Nguanyi, Aondowase Uchir, Boi Shenge who was a 10-year-old son of Simon Shenge. Others include Tyohemba Chiatyo, Prince Antse Saka, Terna Kwaghgba and Titus Ianna all of Tse-Ibe village. Also, murdered in Tse Katsa village was Mr. Iorbee Ianna.”

“From Mbabuande district at Tse-Mkem village, Torhile Jir, Pastor Aondo Akura Joji, James Jir and Ajii Bagu were murdered by the terrorists.”

According to the royal father, when news of the attack reached the troops of Operation Whirl Stroke, OPWS, the team stationed in Agagbe swiftly responded to save the locals, but unfortunately, one soldier was shot on the abdomen and on the right hand, leaving him in a bad condition.

He said: “We deeply identify with the wounded soldier and thank the military for her pro-activeness in curbing insecurity induced by the invading force of the killer Fulani herdsmen. We pray for the quick healing of the wounded soldier.”

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