•‘11 bodies recovered’ •Fulani group: we’ve lost 300 cows
Attacks by gunmen believed to be Fulani herdsmen on revenge mission at the weekend led to the death of many people in two Local Government Areas of Plateau State.
But the police said 11 people died.
Governor Simon Lalong, who was attending the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Convention in Abuja, cut short his stay to return home to slam curfew on three councils as tension continued to rise.
The villages were attacked between 11pm on Saturday and 3am on Sunday, it was leant.
The Special Military Taskforce in charge of security in Plateau State, Operation Safe Haven, failed to prevent the attack.
The villages attacked are Xland, Gindin Akwati, Ruku, Nghar, Kura Falls and Kakuruk, all in Gashish District, as well as Rakok, Kok and Razat in Ropp District.
Villages around Shonong in Bachit District of Riyom Local Government Area were also attacked.
A resident of Xland, Bulus Dung, who escaped the attack, said: “The gunmen were Fulani; there is no doubt about that, because we have been seeing mass movement of armed Fulani at night. We reported the strange movement to the military task force a week ago but they failed to prevent it.”
The Nation learnt that Berom villages – Xland, Gindin Akwati, Kura Falls, Nghar and Ruku – were completely sacked.
In Nghar, many bodies were recovered as the entire village was razed. Many have been declared wanted after the attacks while survivors were believed to be hiding in bushes.
The task force office in Barkin Ladi, known as “Sector 7”, is currently hosting more than 200 victims who escaped the attacks, mostly women and children.
The lawmaker representing Barkin Ladi/Riyom in the House of Representatives, Istifanus Gyang, described the attack as “a senseless bloodbath”.
Spokeperson of the military taskforce, Major Umar Adam, said the taskforce had launched rescue operations and evacuated some victims to the hospital.
He said: “I can confirm that the attack was perpetrated by yet-to-be identified gunmen, and while we embark on rescue operation, a detachment of our men went after the gunmen and arrested some of them; they are in our custody for investigations.
“But is difficult for me to give the casualty figure for now because rescue teams are still in the bush; we can only get the figure of casualties at the end of the rescue operation.”
The Plateau State government is “deeply pained that despite efforts which has led to the restoration of relative peace in the state, some unpatriotic elements are bent on disrupting the gains so far made”.
A statement by the Secretary to the State Government, Rufus Bature, said: “The government condemns these attacks and has mobilised the full compliments of security forces who are restoring normalcy in the affected areas and the environs.
“The government holds every single live as sacred hence, has mobilised medical and relief agencies to ameliorate the suffering of those in distress.
“A 6pm to 6am curfew will continue in Jos South, Barkin Ladi and Riyom councils until normalcy is restored.”
Though the attacks were concentrated on Barkin Ladi, there is heavy tension in neighbouring Mangu, Bokkos and Riyom councils.
Youths in Jos South council were said to have blocked the federal highway to protest the attacks in Barkin Ladi.
The Police confirmed the death of 11 persons.
Its spokesman, Terna Tyopev, said: “The gunmen invaded the villages on Saturday and killed several people. Based on the number of bodies recovered and buried, we can confirm 11 killed.
“However, more people might have died because many families had buried their dead before the police arrived.”
Tyopev added that some bodies were deposited at the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) mortuary and security had been tightened in the affected villages to restore peace.
The Chairman, North Central zone of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Danladi Ciroma, condemned the attacks.
He added: “These attacks are retaliatory. As much as I don’t support the killing of human being, the truth must be told that those who carried out the attacks must be on revenge mission.
“There have been recent reports of cow rustling and destruction of farms between Berom farmers and Fulani herdsmen. The people carrying out these criminal activities are well known to the communities but the communities are hiding them.
“Fulani herdsmen have lost about 300 cows in the last few weeks – 94 cows were rustled by armed Berom youths in Fan village, another 36 cows were killed by Berom youths. In addition to that, 174 cattle were rustled and the criminals disappeared with them to Mangu.
“Since these cows were not found, no one should expect peace in the areas. Even soldiers that went after the criminals to recover the rustled cows were shot by the armed rustlers and eventually escaped with all the cows.
“The government of Governor Lalong has done a lot to restore peace, but the criminal elements hiding among their people are the ones frustrating these peace efforts.
“Though the security agencies have tried, they need to do more by being fair to all parties; they should not neglect any report presented by Fulani of Berom because such report can lead to attacks and deaths if not properly handled.
“Criminals thrive a lot in Berom communities, but when the Fulani, who are always victims of their crime, react with attacks, they blame the government.
“These communities have leaders, why hide the criminals? They should fish out the criminals and hand them over to security agencies to avoid death of innocent ones.
“As it is today, the Berom man cannot go to farm, the Fulani cannot breed his cows in Berom Land. This can be stopped if the security agencies do more than what they are currently doing. The attacks will stop as soon as the security agencies stop Berom youths from stealing Fulani cows”
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