The Acting Governor of Benue State, Engr. Benson Abounu, has declared that the state is currently under siege by insurgents.
Engr Abounu, who spoke yesterday after an emergency security meeting at his office, said Benue was at the moment under attack from all corners as insurgents had invaded the state, picking their targets at will and spilling blood everywhere.
The meeting followed Tuesday early morning attack by bandits, suspected to be herdsmen on Ayar Mbalom, Gwer West local government area and the killing of 19 persons, including two Catholic priests, who were officiating the morning mass at St. Ignatius Catholic Church, Gwer East.
The Acting Governor, who described the day as a dark one for Benue state and its people, said, “The attack was a calculated one; well planned and well executed by the bandits who first attacked the church, killed the priests, a catechist and some parishioners, then went to a venue of a burial ceremony and killed some of the mourners.”
He said the attack on the church was a new dimension to the farmers/herdsmen crisis and one that needs a determined and appropriate response from the federal government and the security agencies the way insurgency in the North East is being tackled, adding that what they are experiencing today is insurgency.
The Acting Governor, who stated that the bandits, who numbered about 30 might still be lurking around the bushes directed the security agents to pursue them, flush them out of the area and get them apprehended so that they can be investigated to know the root causes of the killings.
He disclosed that the Commissioner of Police, who has visited the area himself, has deployed his men to the area, the same thing as the Commander of the 72 Special Forces battalion who has also dispatched soldiers there.
While appealing for calm, he called on people of the state to be extra vigilant and to report any suspicious movement to the security agencies.