Insecurity: Bandits Kill Traditional Ruler,  21 Others, Abduct Scores in Kaduna, Benue, Niger

By Damilare Adeleye

Suspected gunmen have killed no fewer than 22 persons in Benue, Kaduna and Niger states during the weekend.

10 persons were killed in Kaduna by the suspected terrorists in separate attacks in Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State.

We also learnt that unspecified number of people with large number of women were abducted in the communities during a banditry operation that lasted several hours.

While the state Police Command is yet to react to the development, a local security source disclosed that the gunmen had initially attacked some villages in neighbouring Niger State where they abducted some persons, but on their way back to their hideout along Birnin Gwari, they were confronted by some local vigilantes at Ungwan Bula, Unguwar Dafillo and Ijinga villages in Randagi district of Birnin-Gwari.

The gunmen however, in retaliation, returned to the communities on Saturday morning and killed 10 persons which include four villagers and six vigilante members. They also kidnapped an unspecified number of people during the operation.

Similarly, in Benue State, another gang of bandits also killed a traditional ruler and eight other mourners during a burial ceremony. The bandits were suspected to be loyalists of the late Terwase Agwaza alias ‘Gana’ at Imande Mbakenge, Mbache Council Ward of Katsina-Ala Local Government Government Area, LGA, of Benue State.

We learnt that the brutal murder of the mourners came less than 48 hours after troops of the joint security/military operation in Benue State, codenamed Operation Whirl Stroke, OPWS, eliminated three militia leaders and loyalists of the late ‘Gana’ in Katsina-Ala and Ukum LGAs.

As reported, a source in the area informed us that the well-armed gunmen stormed the venue of the burial, Saturday morning, on motorbikes and opened fire on the mourners.

According to him: “It happened during the burial ceremony of Mr Atser Nor Agbev from Imande Mbakange, Mbache Council Ward in Katsina-Ala LGA.

“The group of well-armed young men just came on three motorcycles and immediately went straight to where the kindred head, named Zaki Isaac Gande, was seated and started molesting him.

“They searched him and took away some money from him after which they shot him and also opened fire at the other mourners, killing about eight and injuring several others.

“After the attack, they fled the scene and everyone is linking the attack to the operation carried out on Thursday and Friday by the troops of Operation Whirl Stroke during which they killed three militia leaders who were loyal to the late Gana.”

While confirming the incident, Chairman of Katsina-Ala LGA, Mr Alfred Atera disclosed that nine persons lost their lives in the attack, adding that the attack might be connected to the earlier operation carried out by troops of the OPWS in the LGA.

In his words:“Nine persons were killed at a burial on Saturday. It was a reprisal. You know that Janta was killed in the earlier operation by OPWS. So I strongly believe it was a reprisal.”

He further revealed that three other persons who were critically injured in the attack have been taken to an undisclosed hospital while only four of the murdered mourners were from Katsina-Ala.

He said: “Five of the victims, including the in-law of the deceased man came from Vandeikya to witness the burial of their in-law and got killed by the gunmen.”

Likewise, three persons have also been confirmed by Niger State Police Command to have been killed in Ebbo and Ndagbegi villages of Lavun Local Government Area of the state by suspected gunmen.

Mr Monday Kuryas, the state Commissioner of Police confirmed this yesterday in Minna. He revealed that the incident happened on Sunday around 5am when the gunmen stormed the village.

He said that a detachment of police tactical squad and the military have been deployed to the area and have launched a manhunt with a view to trailing and arresting the criminals.

“We appeal to residents to assist security personnel deployed with reliable information that could aid in apprehending the miscreants in their midst," he said.