22 more lives were lost in renewed sectarian clashes in Plateau State as gunmen invaded two villages in Bokkos Local Government Area early yesterday.
The gunmen believed to be mercenaries from Chad and Niger Republics shot dead 20 people at Matol and Mangol villages using sophisticated weapons.
While trying to salvage the situation, two anti-riot policemen attached to the Special Task Force, STF, maintaining security in the state were also shot in an exchange of fire, with six of the attackers also losing their lives.
Confirming the attack, a spokesman of the STF, Lt. Navy Akpa regretted the death of the two policemen, adding that six of the attackers were also killed.
According to Akpa, the casualty figure was “still being verified” but noted that some arrests were made apart from the six attackers killed.
Reports say the violence spread in the morning as locals descended on Fulani settlements around them. Economic activities in the area have been paralyzed as a result of the attack with many afraid of which area would be the next target.
Also confirming the attack, Chairman, Bokkos Local Government Area, Mr Zakka Akos said 18 bodies were recovered at the scene of the attack, just as Dr Kumbem Temang of Cottage Hospital, Bokkos confirmed that 18 people were killed and among them was a 70-year-old woman known as Kaka Kiwo.
A victim of the attack, one Majau Yohanna, was quoted as saying that the attackers invaded the village “from 7 p.m. not long after we returned from our farms and were resting in our respective houses.
“They (attackers) came in large numbers and had very sophisticated weapons,” Yohanna, currently being treated at the Bingham University Teaching Hospital, BUTH, Jos told NAN.
In its reaction to the killings, the Plateau State Government through the Commissioner for Information and Communication Mr. Yiljap Abraham said: “This is another unsettling event in the state with the accompanying implication of creating disaffection among communities that had long lived together.
”Let it be known that the Plateau State Government is determined to use every legal and constitutional means to ensure the maintenance of law and order in every part of the state.
”This, however, calls for high level vigilance by all communities and people of goodwill to thwart the plans of restless people and groups who do not wish to see the people of the State at peace with themselves.”