- As gunmen attack Wase, kill 8
From Uche Nnorom, Makurdi & Ado Abubakar Musa, Jos
At least 55 persons were feared killed yesterday in a bloody clash between Tiv youths and suspected Fulani herdsmen in Gbajimba, headquarters of Guma local government area of Benue state.
Similarly, eight persons were reportedly killed and scores wounded yesterday when people suspected to be Tarok militia invaded Wase town in Wase local government area of Plateau state.
Heavy gun duel was said to have occurred yesterday in Gbajimba town where women and children were said to have fled to nearby villages and Makurdi, the state capital, for safety.
Eyewitnesses told our correspondent that the suspected Fulani attackers had stormed Gbajimba early yesterday but were repelled by armed Tiv youths who engaged them in a bloody gun fight.
“They came in their large numbers very early morning from Awe local government area of Nasarawa state and made an attempt to forcefully seize the town and the local government secretariat but they were confronted by our youths who resisted and forced them to beat a retreat.
“Just this afternoon at about 1pm, they staged a more coordinated attack on the town, this time they came in their hundreds, shooting, burning down houses, huts and killing anything in sight.
“The policemen in Gbajimba are helpless because we have less than 50 officers and men on ground at the station and this attack has completely overwhelmed them.
“As I speak to you, serious fighting is still going on in Gbajimba.
Close to 55 persons may have been killed on both sides because corpses are littered in the community. So many of our people are also missing at this moment.
“But, from the look of things, if security personnel do not quickly mobilize into the town, the invaders may succeed in completely taking over the ancient town after sacking close to 100 villages in the local government area in the last few weeks.
“Our fear is that if Gbajimba is allowed to fall into the hands of these marauders, it could be used as a launching pad to attack Makurdi which is just a few minutes’ drive from the ancient town”, the source said.
When contacted on phone, the Benue state police spokesman, Superintendent Daniel Ezeala, said police patrol have been dispatched to the area, adding “am awaiting full briefing”.
Meanwhile, eight persons were reportedly killed and scores wounded yesterday when people suspected to be Tarok militia invaded Wase.
Shafii Sambo, who is the Wase Youth Leader, confirmed the attack. He said, the Saturday attack lasted for six hours before the attackers were repelled, but it resumed early in the morning yesterday without any intervention from security operatives.
The youth leader said, “Tarok militia invaded our town around 12 midnight on Saturday with sophisticated weapons and started shooting sporadically.
“They fight lasted for almost six hours and there was no security intervention throughout the period it lasted.
“To our surprise this morning (yesterday), the attackers came back shooting everywhere but were also repelled by the Wase youth, ” he added.
The Plateau state spokesperson of the Special Task Force (STF), Captain Salisu Mustafa, could not be reached on his phone for comments, but the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, ASP Felicia Anslem, confirmed the gunshots but could not ascertain the details as at press time.
Checks in Wase revealed that the people of town staged a protest afterwards lamenting the lackadaisical attitude of the security and thus tried to take the law into their hands, leading to soldiers in the area killing one person in an attempt to seize a gun from him.