Communal clashes in Benue have reportedly escalated as 11 persons were killed after gunmen opened fire on Christian worshippers at Tse-Aye and Tse-Ngibo, Ikurav Tiev in Katsina-Ala Local Government Area.
Vanguard reports that the attack was as a result of the rivalry between the people of Shitile and neighbouring communities in Sankera area of the state comprising Logo, Ukum and Katsina/Ala local government areas.
A highly placed government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said attemot to resolve the conflict has proved futile.
He said: “Only early this year, Shitile hoodlums attacked Ikurav people and killed 10 persons at Tse-Ujoh and elders of the community, including the local government council Chairman, pleaded for calm and cautioned against reprisal.
“This time, people went for Good Friday Service and were on their way backhome when many of them were ambushed at Tse-Ngibo and Tse-Toraye where the hoodlums mounted a road block and killed 11 of them and several others are still missing.
“The death toll may be higher because nobody knows the whereabouts of those missing but the fear is that they might have been killed as well because close to 40 persons are said to be missing.
“After killing the innocent victims, the attackers seized a vehicle from one of those killed and rustled several cows from the same village and went away with their loot.
“Incidentally, these attacks have been recurrent of late. For some time now, Ikurav has come under repeated attacks. Sometimes young men in that community would be abducted at the border area for no reasons whatsoever and nobody will see or hear from them again.
“From available records, this crisis can be tied to a battle for supremacy in Sankera and several innocent lives are being lost to a needless crisis and conflict.”
Maj. Gen. Adeyemi Yekini, who is the commander of Operation Whirl Stroke, confirmed the communal attack and killing.
He said he had already deployed troops to the area to beef up security and restore calm.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari expressed deep sadness at the latest killings in some northern states such as Adamawa and Taraba.
In a statement released by presidential spokesman Garba Shehu on Saturday, April 20, the Nigerian leader described the latest attacks as ‘needless violence’.
Omotayo Yusuf I Vanguard