by Musa Abdullahi
No fewer than 500 persons have been killed by gunmen in raids on five communities in Plateau State. The raids were carried out between Friday night and Saturday morning by Fulani Herdsmen who butchered and killed most of the villages in their sleep.
The affected communities were those of Taroh settlements. They were Saku, Wadata Kasuwa, Wadata Mission, Kurmi and Kadarko. All the five communities are in Wase Local Government Area of Plateau State.
The gunmenm, identified as herdsmen by witnesses, were reportedly dressed in military uniforms. They were said to be operatives of the Special Task Force on revenge mission for the killing of some soldiers around the Plateau State-Taraba State boundary. Most of those killed were women and children.
Efforts to get confirmation from Mohammed Badu, the state Commissioner for Information and Communication, failed. Badu said it is the duty of the Special Task Force to clarify the development. Pam Ayuba, the Special Assistant to Governor Jonah Jang on Media and the Media Officer of the STF, did not pick his calls.
The traditional ruler of Taroh natives in Wase, Lot Nden, however confirmed the attack. Nden also confirmed the death toll.
He put it at over 500. This is apart from properties destroyed. Nden said the gunmen came in large numbers, spotting Army uniforms. Another eyewitness, who said he escaped narrowly, said the well prepared herdsmen killed several women and children and destroyed houses.
He said: “The men in Army uniform came in, accompanied by 18 armoured tanks, with over 5,000 men dressed in army uniform. “They split into different camps. “Some of the soldiers came through Taraba State.”
But the spokesman for the STF, Captain Ikedichi Iweha, denied the allegation. Iweha said the operation was meant to check gunmen who had been terrorising residents and security personnel in the area.
According to him, following frequent attacks on communities around the Plateau State-Taraba State boundary by some militiamen, the STF and soldiers from the 3 Armoured Division of the Nigerian Army in Jos had been carrying out operations targeted at flushing out the militiamen. He said soldiers were working to protect innocent civilians could not turn around to kill them.