Gunmen on Thursday invaded Tse Ujondo and Tse Uvia, in the Zaki Biam town, Ukum Local Government Area of Benue State and killed four persons, including a policeman.
reports said that the gunmen also abducted another mobile policeman on special duty in the area and burnt a police checkpoint near the Zaki Biam Mechanic Village.
It was gathered that the incident, which started around 11am, was allegedly masterminded by gang members of a notorious criminal, Terwase Akwaza, aka Gana.
The incident was said to have forced traders in the town to close their shops, while residents fled into the bush.
A close aide of the Ukum council chairman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they were yet to ascertain the cause of the attack.
He added that the chairman had already alerted security men who had gone to the flash point to maintain peace.
He said, “We cannot tell exactly the number of casualties now because people ran away from the attack point and security men, who had gone to maintain peace in the area, have yet to return.”
The Benue State Police Command, however, said three persons were killed, including the policeman, whose rifle was snatched.
A statement by the command spokesman, DSP Moses Yamu, read, “The police in Ukum around 11am on Thursday received information that some armed militia, aka Gana Boys, dressed in Mobile Police Force and Special Forces uniforms, were approaching Zaki Biam town through bush paths. They were said to be riding motorcycles.
“It is important to note that their plan was to escape the ongoing joint operation tagged, ‘Whirl Stroke,’ targeted at their enclaves, which forced them out to possibly seek refuge in the town.
“The DPO of Ukum division quickly alerted and mobilised security forces around in order to repel the militia.
“An intense gun duel ensued during which regrettably, one policeman, who was fatally injured and his rifle taken away by the militia, was rushed to a hospital alongside two yet-to-be identified civilians (a woman and a boy). They were confirmed dead at the hospital.
“Three other persons, who sustained injuries, are currently receiving treatment at Light of Grace Hospital, Zaki Biam.”
The command spokesman further said the Commissioner of Police, Ene Okon, had assured the public, especially people of Ukum and its environs, that efforts had been intensified to bring the assailants to justice.