The week-long orgy of killings in Plateau State is snowballing into a crisis with about 50 persons declared dead, says officials of the State Task Force (STF), a combined team of military and police personnel tasked with ensuring security in the state.
While Jos city and surrounding urban areas where past crises and massacres in which thousands were killed are patrolled by the STF, the recent killings are a string of attacks on villages in rural, remote areas of the state.
The STF spokesman, Navy Lt. Jude Akpa, said that the most recent killings happened on Friday night when a town in the Bokkos area of BarkinLadi Local Government Area was attacked and nine people killed, with the attackers fleeing before soldiers arrived.
The management committee chairman of the local government, Emmanuel Lohman corroborated his story, saying that gunmen armed with assault rifles struck a village called Ratas and opened fire in the night while many there were sleeping, while witnesses said that shooting lasted for almost two hours before the attackers fled.
Suspicion has been falling on nomadic Hausa-Fulani herdsmen by villagers as being behind the attacks, a charge denied by the state secretary of the cattle breeders association, Mohammed Nura who said that Hausa-Fulani people have also been killed in the reprisals.
The figure of 50 people said to have been killed in attacks, includes an assault on Wednesday on a village in the Riyom local government area that killed 28 people and an attack on Thursday in the Bokkos local government area that killed 18 civilians. The military said it killed six while trying to repel attackers during the assault.
Meanwhile, the management committee chairman of BarkinLadi local government area of Plateau State, Emmanuel Lohman, has given the personnel of the Special Task Force commendation on Jos crisis saying but for their constant patrols around the villages in the area, there would have been another bloody night yesterday.
Loman who spoke in Jos yesterday while giving an update on the renewed killing of people by suspected hired Fulani gunmen said STF personnel prevented another round of bloody killings because of their constant patrol of the area.
The council chairman commended the STF personnel for their professional conduct, noting that the council will support them in the bid to rid the area of the killers.
Meanwhile, the Police in Gombe State have confirmed the killing of two people when gunmen attacked Kumo Police Division in Akko Local Government Area on Friday night.
The Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Mohammed Sule, told newsmen in Gombe that the dead were among the attackers, while his men recovered one AK 47 rifle and two motorcycles from the attackers.
“As far as I am concerned, none of my men was killed. What I know is that two of the attackers were killed and we recovered one AK 47 rifle and two motorcycles,” he said.
Sule, however, said he was expecting details of the incident since it occurred in the night.
He decried the lack of information from the public to enable the police to prevent such attacks.
Some residents of Kumo town reported that they heard sounds of gunshots when the attackers came in the night.
They said they could not sleep in the night because of the exchange of fire between the police and the attackers.