Three soldiers sustained injuries while six villagers were killed when armed men invaded Ikobi community of Apa Local Government Area in Benue State.
Local sources had earlier told our correspondent in Makurdi that a soldier was killed and two of his colleagues were seriously injured after an encounter with the gunmen who invaded the Ikobi community at the weekend during which the six people were killed.
But the military authorities said three soldiers were wounded in the encounter with bandits.
One of the locals said soldiers of Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS) stationed at Agagbe responded to a distress call and during the process they had encountered armed invaders at Tse-Abwa, Mbapa council ward in Gwer West LGA.
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“Two soldiers sustained serious injury and one was killed,” the local said.
Another local explained that they (soldiers) repelled the attackers but were later ambushed on their way back to Agagbe.
The local added, “The incident occurred in the communities bordering both Apa and Gwer West LGAs.”
Similarly, a resident of Ikobi, said six persons were killed by the armed invaders in the community at the weekend while a few others are still missing.
The resident said four of the deceased were killed on Saturday while two others were earlier killed on Thursday.
“On 2nd of February, armed invaders machete a man called Usman Ochowechi in his farm close to his village of Oloke in Ikobi and they sent him a message that he should tell the Ikobi people that they are coming which they did attack and killed two persons.
“Miss Eba, Usman still missing as at the 3rd of February. They came back again on 4th February and killed four persons in same Ikobi. They deceased are; Edeh Baba, Innocent Owoicho, Ochekpe Ajekpa and Abugbe.
Corroborating the Ikobi killings, a lawmaker representing Apa constituency at the State House of Assembly, Abu Umoru, confirmed the killings to our correspondent on telephone.
Umoru said, “It’s a confirmed story, suspected herders invaded the Ikobi community and so far, six lives have been lost within the past four days. They could be more. We had to put a call to OPWS and the commander has mobilised soldiers to the community.
“People have fled their homes so we can’t even know the exact number of casualties for now.”
Meanwhile, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) SP Catherine Anene, said she did not have the information.
But, OPWS Public Relations Officer, Flight Lieutenant, Katty Audu, in a statement confirmed the attack on Ikobi community, saying three soldiers were wounded in the encounter with armed herders.
“Troops of Operation Whirl Stroke received information about an attack on Ikobi community on the 4 February 2023 at about 5pm and responded immediately. The gallants troops moved to the area and cleared the community. The rampaging armed herders fled towards Nasarawa State on sighting the troops.”
“The situation though dicey has been stabilised. The operation continued the next day 5 February 2023 in adjoining communities. While the troops were moving towards Agagbe, they had contact with some bandits.
“The bandits fired at the troops and our troops engaged them with superior fire power that lasted for about 30 minutes. Three of our troops sustained various degree of injuries. The injured troops are currently receiving treatment.”