Twenty-six more bodies were yesterday recovered following attacks by suspected herdsmen in military uniform at the Benue State border communities of Akaanya, Tse Gbum, Kpete and Ulam, all in Ukum Council, bringing the death toll to 67.
The Guardian gathered from sources in the areas that the attacks were carried out by men dressed in Army uniform, who were said to be looking for their missing persons in another border town in Taraba State.
An aide to the Chairman of Ukum Local Council, who did not want his name in print, said the 26 bodies were only those recovered yesterday morning. He said: “As it is now, we have recovered 26 bodies. Yesterday, about 41 persons were killed in Jande Ikura, a community between Benue and Taraba states. We learnt that during the attack, three bodies recovered were those of men dressed in military uniform.”
According to the aide, between 10:00a.m. and 11:00a.m. yesterday, the same suspected gunmen in Army uniform crossed over to some communities in Benue and started shooting and killing people, claiming that they were looking for their missing persons.“They entered Akaanya, Tse Gbum, Kpete, which is a riverine area, and Ulam, all in Benue, and killed the 26 persons there. Many people are still missing.
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“These people came from Kente in Taraba State to launch the attack and after that, they retreated to their base at Kente,” he disclosed.But fielding questions from journalists yesterday after the state Security Council meeting, the state Deputy Governor, who is the acting governor, Benson Abounu, denied knowledge of the killings in Ukum, but said only two persons were killed in Makurdi metropolis by herdsmen.
According to him: “I have not been briefed on the casualty killings in Ukum. We have had a Security Council meeting, but nobody mentioned anything like that to me.”
On whether he had received a briefing from the Ukum Council chairman, Abounu said: “No, the Ukum local government chairman has not briefed me yet.“In the Security Council meeting, we emphasised the need for security in the state to be proactive, rather than being reactive.
“What they have been doing is that they only go to repel attacks and return, instead of mounting checks on the flashpoints.“With this kind of strategy, before sometimes before they get to where the attacks are taking place, the damage is already done.”