At least, 42 people have been reportedly killed by gunmen within two days in rural communities of Katsina-Ala and Gwer West local government areas of Benue State.
Several passengers were also said to have been taken away by the gunmen who blocked the Makurdi – Naka road in Gwer West.
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Villagers said 36 out of the 42 victims were killed in Kastina-Ala while the remaining six were murdered in Gwer West following an attack carried out by gunmen in the areas between Thursday and Friday morning.
A resident in Kastina-Ala told our correspondent by telephone that the killings of the 36 people in the early hours of Thursday took place in Shitile, Shikaan and Mbagena Kpav areas of the local government area.
The resident, who declined to have his name on print, said he does not know whether the killings were perpetrated by the local bandits or armed herders.
But, the Chairman of Gwer West, Mrs Grace Igbabon, told newsmen in Makurdi on the telephone that six people were killed in her area by suspected armed herders.
Igbabon explained that while five of the deceased were eliminated by the gunmen on Thursday, the sixth person was killed on Friday morning during an exchange of gunfire between the alleged armed herders and youths of the affected Mbakpa community.
The Gwer West chairman added that the armed herders, who blocked the Makurdi – Naka road on Thursday evening, whisked away some passengers whose whereabouts are still unknown.
An effort to reach the Chairman of Kastina-Ala LGA, Alfred Atera, has not yielded result at the time of filing this report as calls and text messages put through his telephone were not answered.
MACBAN denies involvement
Meanwhile, the state secretary of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN), Ibrahim Galma, has denied the involvement of any member of the body in the killings within crisis areas of the state.
The Spokesperson of the Benue Police, DSP Catherine Anene, however, confirmed the Gwer West attack to journalists, saying that five people were killed.
Anene could not confirm the killings in Kastina-Ala as she maintained that the command was yet to get reports from the area.