By Peter Duru, Makurdi
Eleven persons were reportedly killed and many unaccounted for in a Good Friday attack by gunmen on worshippers returning from church at Tse-Aye and Tse-Ngibo, Ikurav Tiev in Katsina-Ala Local Government Area of Benue State.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that the attack was a fallout 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.
According to a highly placed government official who preferred anonymity, the crisis in the Sankera area of the state had, overtime, defied efforts by highly placed people of the area to have it resolved because it was a creation of some unseen powerful forces in the area.
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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.”
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When contacted, Commander of Operation Whirl Stroke, Maj. Gen. Adeyemi Yekini, confirmed communal conflict and the killings, adding that he had already deployed troops to the area to beef up security and restore calm.