Less than 48 hours after two Catholic Priests and 17 worshipers were killed by suspected herdsmen at Mbalon in Gwer East Local government area of Benue state, the marauders late Tuesday night and early Wednesday launched a coordinated attack on three communities in Guma local government area, killing no fewer than 39 persons, injuring scores and razing over 160 houses, huts and farmlands in the communities, Vanguard reports.
It was gathered from sources in the affected communities that the death toll could be higher as more bodies were being recovered from communities.
Among the communities and villages affected in the attack were Tse-Umenge, Mbadwen council ward, Mbakpase, Saghev council ward and Tse-Ali, Mbawa council ward.
Confirming the attack on his village Tse-Umenge a retired Permanent Secretary in the Benue state service, said close to 50 houses were burnt in his village by armed herdsmen.
He said, “in my village Umenge they did not kill anybody because the people had already fled but they raised over 50 houses.
“But in the council ward itself over 15 persons were killed in the attack which commenced late Tuesday till early Wednesday, though the number might increase because the search for more bodies is still ongoing.”
Another Source at Tomanyiin-Mbakpaase, Saghev Council ward who is also a Journalist said the invaders launched an attack on his community on Tuesday around 11pm.
“They came dressed in military fatigue shooting sporadically. They also burnt down several houses and huts numbering over 62 and our food barns. So far we have recovered three bodies in my village and everyone has fled the village because we don’t have even a Police post in the village.”
At Tse-Ali in Mbawa council ward, and indigene of the area said the well armed herdsmen besieged the community around 11pm and spent close to four houses ransacking the community and razing over 70 houses after they had killed over 21 persons whose bodies have been recovered from the bushes.
“It was like a war situation in Tse-Ali, the sound of gunshots were coming from every direction. People were running in all directions, they killed our people like animals who were mostly women and children.
“After the killing of close to 21 persons whose bodies have been recovered so far and injuring many, they burnt 49 houses in the village and carting away whatever food they could carry.”
“As we speak, Tse Ali has been deserted, our people do not know where to run to because every village and community is a potential target and nobody knows where will be the next target.
“We cannot tell why they are doing this to us. These people are killing our women and children and the federal government is watch while our people are being killed and butchered as if we do not have a government in Nigeria.”
When contacted, the Benue State Police Commissioner. Fatai Owoseni said he was yet to get details of the attacks.
All effort to get the Chairman of Guma local Government area, Anthony Shawon was fruitless, though one of his aides who craved anonymity said, “chairman cannot pick any calls now because he is moving to the effected communities with medical personnel to salvage any life they could.”
“You know that several communities were affected in the attack and he is trying to get to the affected places which is obviously not easy,” he added.
As at the time of filing this report many recovered bodies and the injured were being moved to the Benue State University Teaching Hospital, BSUTH, where appeals were being made for people to volunteer blood to save the lives of those in dire need of infusion.
Meanwhile, a former Member of the House of Representatives and Chairperson of the Benue Women Forum, Mrs. Rebecca Apedzan has lamented that the sustained attacks and killings in Benue by herdsmen was an indication that the invaders were bent on taking over Benue state.
She said, “Benue had been surrounded and we are all at the middle. Our people are being killed everyday even the Tivs in Nasarawa state are facing the same fate.
“They have all been chased away from Nasarawa. I have cousins who are indigenes of that state who have been chased away from the state to Benue.
“Our pain is that the federal government is simply not doing anything to stop these killings. In fact they are enjoying what you see happening. Since this thing started happening the federal government has come out with different versions of those responsible for the killings.
“They are collecting arms from the people across the states but herdsmen are not being disarmed.
“It is only President Muhammadu Buhari that can stop this but he is carrying on as if nothing is happening. We have not heard him make a strong statement about this issue. He condemns and promises to get to the root of it and nothing happens.
“We are looking onto God to intervene in this matter because that is where our hopes lie at the moment.”