Gunmen, herders kill 43 in Plateau, Benue states attacks

  • Family of 16 burnt to death in community
  • Woman, 4 kids slain

There was outrage in Jos, Plateau State capital, and Benue State on Tuesday night, following the killing of 43 people in different attacks.

Thirty-five people were killed in different attacks in Yelwa Zangam in Jos North Local Government Area of Plateau State.

Also, eight were killed in Yelawa, Guma  Local Government Area of Benue State.

Among those killed were a family of 16, burnt to death in Plateau and a mother and four kids, murdered in Benue.

The latest  bloodletting in  Plateau raised to 58 the number of  lives lost  to attacks in the state  in the last 11 days.

On August 15,  23 persons travelling to Ondo State on their way from a religious event in Bauchi, capital of Bauchi State met their untimely death when their vehicle ran into a group of irate youths on Gada -Biyu – Rukuba Road in Jos North.

The incident led to the imposition of a 24-hour curfew on Jos North by Governor Simon Lalong. The governor, who later relaxed the curfew, re-imposed it after the Tuesday night killings.

In spite of the curfew, angry  youths took to the streets of  Jos yesterday  in protest against  the orgy of killings.

They picked up the bodies in Yelwa Zangam, loaded them in  trucks and headed for the  Government House and the House of Assembly complex.

It was gathered that the youth were prevented from entering the Government House premises in the Rayfield area of Jos by security agents. They dropped some of the bodies at the gate.

They claimed that among the 35 dead were 16 members of a family, who were burnt in their house by the gunmen.

An eye witness told  reporters  that  the gunmen invaded the community  at about 9pm ,  burning houses and shooting at  anyone in sight.

He added  that the attackers disabled a  bridge linking Yelwa Zangam and  Naraguta   before launching the attack.

Police spokesman Gabriel Ubah, who confirmed the attack, did not give details.

He said: “We are aware of an incident in the area. I will brief you later.” As of 9.30 pm yesterday, he had yet to do so.

It was however gathered that 10 suspects were arrested by security operatives.

It was gathered that  the  eight  persons killed  in Yelawa included  a housewife and her four children.

Yelewa,  a border community between Nassarwa and Benue states is located along  the Makurdi- Lafia  Highway.

Franc Utoo , Senior Special Assistant  to  Governor Samuel Ortom  on Projects Monitoring and an indigene of the community said:  ”Last(Tuesday) night, herdsmen invaded Yelewa and killed  a housewife  and  her four children.

“ The woman was preparing supper for the little kids who were playing around. Four other people were also killed during the attack.”

Commander of Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS) Brig  – Gen.  Clement Afere, confirmed the incident, saying: “ It’s true. “.

Lalong  condemned the  attack as a  ”barbaric act”  and directed  security agencies  to  track down the assailants and their sponsors.

He said  in a statement by his spokesman, Dr. Makut Macham,  that the attack was carefully planned..

The governor, who sympathised with the victims, called  for calm, urging those in Jos North council must adhere to the 24-hour curfew.

He added that the dusk-to-dawn curfew in Jos South and Bassa LGAs will remain until further notice.

Speaker of the House of Assembly  Abok Ayuba, who received the protesting youths, also called for calm and restraint.

The youths  urged  Ayuba  to liaise with other arms of government to end the crises in the area.

The Speaker said: “We  are all affected by what is happening in Plateau State. But please, calm down as government is doing everything possible to end the killings.

“We are your representatives. We are going to follow up with relevant authorities to ensure that peace returns to the state.”

National Assembly members, including  Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives,  Ahmed   Wase, flayed the killings and called for the arrest of the perpetrators.

The other lawmakers are Senators  Hezekiah Dimka (Plateau Central),Nora Dadu’ut  and Istifanus Gyang (Plateau North)

Wase said in  a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Umar   Puma, that the attack was ‘inhuman, senseless and unwarranted.

He  commiserated with the bereaved families and other citizens, urging them to continue to support measures aimed at bringing “these ugly attacks under control.”

Dimka advised the people to be on the  alert and cooperate with security agencies as they investigate the sad incidents.

Gyang  said he was pained that  the people of Plateau State  had  been  abandoned to their fate by the Federal Government.

In her statement, Dadu’ut  called on the government to take necessary and decisive actions to apprehend and prosecute those behind the killings.

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