From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Troops of the joint military spike Operation codenamed Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS) on Saturday neutralized five armed bandits and injured some during an air raid of their hideouts on the border between Benue and Nasarawa States.
The armed bandits, it was gathered, had early hours of Saturday, attacked residents of Anune community on Naka Road in Makurdi Local Government Area of Benue State.
It was learnt that the family compound of the Commissioner for Lands, Survey and Solid Mineral, Bernard Unenge was also attacked by the armed bandits.
According to sources from the area, following the armed bandits’ attack which left some persons dead and others injured, the OPWS troops swiftly went after the attackers whom they said, were retreating towards Nasarawa State.
“We saw a helicopter at about 10am on Saturday flying over our community as well as some soldiers in trucks moving into the forest where the attackers had earlier retreated through.
“About two hours later, we saw one of the Soldiers’ trucks conveying about five corpses of the armed bandits who had earlier attacked our community towards Makurdi.
While noting that the attackers suddenly invaded their community in the middle of the night, one of our local sources who simply gave his name as Adamgbe said they didn’t have any issue at all with the armed bandits before the unprovoked attack.
“Till now, we are still shocked as to why these people would come to attack us because I cannot recollect anybody in our community having any issue with them. The attack was so sudden and unprovoked.
“We kept hearing sounds of gunshots for several minutes. By the time the dust settled, we saw they had killed some persons and injured others.
“I feel so sad right now that these innocent members of our community were killed by the armed bandits but I’m happy to see that the OPWS was also able to go after them and killed some of them also.
“In fact, one of the soldiers told us that when the firing became intense, some of the armed bandits ran away with gunshot wounds. He said they were able to successfully repel the armed bandits with the full support of helicopter that was deployed for the operation.
Our source disclosed that remains of the deceased villagers have been moved to mortuary of the Federal Medical Center (FMC) in Makurdi where the injured are also receiving treatment.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Catherine Anene confirmed the attack on the village.
“Today 17/4/2021 at about 4.30am information was received that gunmen invaded Anune, Naka road, Makurdi. A team of Police officers have been deployed to the area to forestall further breakdown of law and order. Further information will be communicated to you please,” she said.
Efforts to get the Force Commander of OPWS, Maj. Gen. Adeyemi Yekini to comment on the matter failed as his phone lines were switched off.