From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Troops of the newly launched Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS), in Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba and Zamfara states, at the weekend killed 35 herdsmen even as a large number of the herdsmen managed to escape with gunshot wounds. Acting director, Defence Information, Brig. Gen. John Agim, who disclosed this in a statement made available to Daily Sun yesterday, said the feat was achieved by troops carrying out clearance operations across Gwer West, Logo and Guma local government areas of Benue State.
Agim said, during the clearance operations, the OPWS troops made contact with heavily-armed herdsmen around the lower Benue and a militia camp at Chetarer village, both in Benue State.
“The troops engaged the militia and pursued them with the M135 helicopter of their air component. This led to a large number of them being neutralised. In all, 35 herdsmen were neutralised and a large number of them escaped with gun shot injuries,” he said.
He, however, noted that the OPWS lost one of its personnel, who was killed in action, while two others who sustained injuries have been treated and discharged even as a personnel was still missing in action at the time of this report.
Similarly, Agim said, following a tip-off, the OPWS troops ambushed some militia who were planning to attack Umaisha and Toto villages in Nasarawa State during which a G3 rifle, 193 x 17.62mm NATO, 81 G3 rifle ammunition, a locally-made pistol and one FN magazine filled with rounds were recovered and one militia was killed.
He also said: “In another development, one Abdullahi Adamu, suspected herdsman at Rukubi in Doma LGA of Nasarawa State, was arrested in possession of an ID card of the Vigilante Group of Nigeria, Nasarawa State command, and a photograph in which he posed with an AK47 rifle.”
He added that the suspect was still under interrogation and would be handed over to the police for prosecution after preliminary investigations were concluded.
“Also, OPWS in Nasarawa State arrested one Musa Habu, aged 32 years, at Kolo, close to Umiasha, Toto LGA. Items recovered from the suspect include one locally-made pistol, two cartridges, one Tecno phone and N130. Preliminary investigation revealed that the suspect is linked with some suspected militia in the locality. The suspect has been handed over to the DSS for further necessary action,” Agim said.
He revealed further that OPWS Sector 3 Taraba troops on patrol through Kwesati, Manya- Garagun axis made contact with eight bandits who were arrested with two AK47 rifles, one K2 rifle and two locally-made guns.
While listing ammunition recovered from the bandits to include 56 rounds of 7.6mm, 25 rounds of K2, three cartridges, charms and phones, among other items, Agim said the suspects and the items would be handed over to the DSS for further investigation.