Suspected herdsmen have killed 16 persons during an attack on Ebete community in Agatu local government area of Benue state.
The herders were said to have attacked the community at 1am on Wednesday, opening fire on residents and setting houses ablaze.
Adeyemi Yekini, force commander, Operation Whirl Stroke, an army task force outfit, confirmed the attack but was unable to give the number of casualties.
“I received a report this afternoon that some people were killed in Agatu by suspected armed bandits. I’m not sure of the number of casualty yet,” he said in a statement.
However, The Nation quoted residents as saying 16 persons were killed and two injured in the attack.
Daddy Seni, a witness, told the newspaper his father and siblings were among the deceased.
Yekini added in the statement that the army had sent a patrol team to the area where the incident happened.
Samuel Ortom, governor of the state, also confirmed the incident, adding that he had raised an alarm earlier.
lterver Akase, chief press secretary to Ortom, told journalists the governor has met with the police over the incident.
“I can confirm that the governor of Benue State met earlier today with the commissioner of Police Mr. Bishi and he confirmed that there was attack in Ebete in Agatu earlier today in which seventeen persons were killed by suspected armed herdsmen,” he said.
“We feel that this is unfortunate because the governor has raised an alarm that some persons for political reasons are planning to unleashed armed herdsmen on innocent Benue people, to create fear in the people for political gains.”
In the past, Agatu experienced similar attacks — on a larger scale.
In March 2016, at least 300 persons were reported to have been killed when suspected herders invaded the community.
Benue is one of the worst hit states by the crisis involving farmers and herders.