Force Commander of Operation Whirl Stroke, a military spike operation to end herdsmen, farmers crisis in Benue State, Major-General Adeyemi Yekini, has said the force killed 21 herdsmen along Gbajimba-Akor-Tomatar axis of Guma Local Government Area of the state in the last three weeks of its operation, while it lost one soldier.
He also said others sustained injuries in several encounters with the armed herdsmen. The Force Command explained that those killed were among the armed marauders who had been carrying out raids on Benue communities.
Yekini, who spoke, yesterday, in Makurdi, explained that invaders had last Saturday, “engaged our troops in an exchange of gunfire for about two hours in Guma during which one soldier was killed and two others sustained injuries.” He noted that in one of the encounters, an Mi35 helicopter had to be deployed to provide air support for the troops as they engaged the militant herdsmen.
“During the fire fight, Mi35 spotted a group of about 20 armed herdsmen on motorcycles moving towards Nasarawa State. Fifteen of them on five motorcycles were neutralised with rocket fire from the Mi35 while others escaped with varying degrees of injury.
“Our troops chased the remaining herdsmen until contact was broken close to the boundary between Nasarawa and Benue states. Plans are in progress to conduct further clearance operations of the border areas between the two states,”
Yekini said. He disclosed further that an operation was conducted in response to the recent killings around Katsina-Ala area of the state, suspected to have been masterminded by the wanted militia leader, Terwase Akwaza, also known as Gana.
He said: “The operation, which took place at Tse Akwaza camp belonging to Gana in Kastina-Ala commenced at about 5 am on August 18, 2018, through Jato Aka-Kashimbila-Tyotsar axis but was suspended due to bad terrain and damaged bridge at Tyotsar which troops could not cross due to flooding.”
“It was not clear if Gana was killed during the assault but trails of blood seen in the building suspected to be where he slept suggests he might have been hit. A motorcycle usually used by Gana was also badly damaged during the air strike,’’ Yekini said.