From: Uche Nnorom, Makurdi
Troops of Operation Whirl Stroke on Wednesday evening, engaged suspected armed bandits in a fierce gun battle at Abaji in Shitile axis of Katsina Ala local government area of Benue state leading to the death of four persons, with three people injured.
Police authority said one person was killled and nine injured
The troops also recovered one AK47 riffle and several ammunition during the encounter with the armed bandits in the area.
Our correspondent gathered from the area that the troops responded to a distress call that suspected armed bandits had gone to launch an attack on Abaji market in the Shitile community.
It was further gathered that the troops immediately mobilised to the Market to repel the bandits leading to a shootout between them and the bandits .
According to a source from Katsina Ala town who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the OPWS troops overpowered the bandits by superior firepower, following which two(2) of the bandits were eliminated by the troops while others escaped with gunshot wounds.
However one of the soldiers was said to have been among those who were injured during the encounter.
The source however, stated that the armed bandits had earlier invaded the Abaji market and opened fire on the people, and in the process, killed four traders before troops arrived to repel them.
The troops were said to have pursued after the armed bandits suspected to be Gana boys and neutralized two(2) of them bringing the total number of causalities to six.
“It was around 4pm to 5pm this evening when we suddenly heard gunshots in and around the Abaji market and people started running for their dear lives Despite running the bandits continued shooting and in the process, killed two persons.
“We quickly alerted OPWS troops and they responded immediately and came to repel the armed bandits. The army went after the armed gang and engaged them in a gun duel.
“They were able to killed few of them because we saw two dead bodies in addition to the two(2) persons earlier killed in the market place”, the source said.
He commended the effort of the soldiers and appealed to the federal and state governments to deploy more security personnel to the area to address the increasing spate of insecurity in the Sankera axis.
Efforts to get the force commander of OPWS, Major General Adeyemi Yekini proved abortive as his cell phone number could not be reached and text messages sent to his phone could not be delivered as at the time of filing this report.
Meanwhile, the Benue State Police Command in a press statement released by the Police Public Relations’ Officer, PPRO DSP Catherine Anene said “at about 6:30 pm while traders were closing from Abaji Market in Katsina-Ala local government area, bandits who disguised themselves as buyers, started shooting sporadically killing one person while nine others were injured.
“Joint operation of the Police and other security agencies returned fire and repelled the bandits to the forest with gunshots be injuries where they have been cordoned for search.