THISDAY HEADLINE: Massacre in Plateau as Gunmen Kill over 100

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The orgy of violence in the country persisted at the weekend as gunmen invaded three local government areas in Plateau State, killing over 100 persons.

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The affected councils, Barkin Ladi, Riyom and Jos South, were immediately placed under a dusk-to-dawn curfew by the state government that received soothing words of support from Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, both of who condemned the massacre in strong terms and asked the security agencies to up their game to end the wanton killings across the land.

Although the police put the number of deaths at 86, community leaders and eye-witnesses said between 100 and 150 persons were killed in separate communities in the three restive councils.

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The gory incident forced the state Governor, Mr. Simon Lalong, who was in Abuja to attend the All Progressives Congress (APC), national convention, to abandon the convention and return home to attend to the situation.

A statement by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr. Rufus Bature, said following the killings, the state government had imposed a curfew on the affected local governments.

The villages attacked were Gindi Akwati, Ruku, Kura, Rapps, Kinshan, Gengere, Heipang, and Gana Ropp.

Another statement by the Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mr. Yakubu Dati, said the government regretted the incident.

“The Plateau State Government wishes to commiserate with citizens of the state, especially Xland and Gindin Akwati communities of Barkin Ladi Local Government Area, over unfortunate recent attacks,” Dati said, adding, “Government is deeply pained that despite concerted efforts which had led to the restoration of relative peace across the state, some unpatriotic elements are bent on disrupting the gains so far made.”

He appealed to citizens not to take the law into their hands but cooperate with security agencies to prevent further break down of law and order as they tracked the perpetrators of the evil act.

Speaking on the incidence, the President of Gashish Development Association (GDA), Mr. Francis Chung, said the attackers, who were masked, swooped on the communities at 11p.m. on Saturday night and shot sporadically at the villagers killing 139 persons.

Corroborating Chung’s claim, the lawmaker representing Barkin Ladi in the House of Assembly, Mr. Peter Gyendem, described the situation as worrisome, saying over 150 persons were killed.

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An eyewitness who narrowly escaped death in Gana Ropp village, near Bethany Christian Academy, Mr. Joshua Gwom, said a clergy, Reverend Musa of the Assembly of God’s Church, his wife and granddaughter were all hacked to death by the attackers.

The Publicity Secretary of Berom Educational and Cultural Organisation (BECO), Mr. Sam Gordons, said over 150 persons were killed in about nine villages attacked.

Describing the killings as pathetic and an attempt at genocide and ethnic cleansing, Godons said President Muhammadu Buhari could stop the killings by the suspected Fulani herders if he really wished to do so, saying that the president as the Patron of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), could rein them in.

Some people, however, considered the attack as a reprisal, saying that the Fulani had on Friday lamented that five of their kinsmen travelling with cows from Kara market were missing after an attack.

The police command in the state said 86 people must have been killed in the pre-dawn attack in Barkin Ladi local government by unknown gunmen.

Its Public Relations Officer, Terna Tyopev, who confirmed the casualty figure late Sunday evening, said at least 50 houses were razed, eight hospitalised for various degree of injuries, while six suspects were arrested.

The Media Officer of the Special Task Force (STF) in the state, Major Umar Adam, said, “We are still at the scene of the attacks; we will get back to you on the actual casualty figure as soon as we are done.”

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