Rose Ejembi, Makurdi.
The military operation code named Operation WHIRL STROKE (OPWS), on Saturday, engaged a group of armed herdsmen who invaded some communities along Gbajimba, the headquarters of Guma Local Government Area of Benue State, in a gun battle.
The suspected herdsmen were said to have, in the early hours of Saturday, ambushed military personnel who were on surveillance in Guma Local Government Area, killing one soldier and injuring two others.
The incidence, our correspondent gathered, occurred in the early hours of the day when the soldiers were patrolling the Gbajimba-Iyordye-Akaahena road and they were suddenly ambushed by the armed herdsmen.
Some of the locals told newsmen that the militia herdsmen who were said to be heavily armed and in large numbers, on sighting the military personnel of Operation WHIRL STROKE, engaged them in a gun duel.
As a result of the attack, it was gathered that there was heavy deployment of security in the area to forestall any further attacks on the locals who were just returning home from internally-displaced persons (IDPs) camps after several months of fleeing their homes.
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Some locals stated that two helicopters were noticed hovering around the camp of the soldiers at LGEA Primary School, Mbabegha community, for sometime before moving to the scene of the attack.
When contacted, Theatre Commander of OPWS, Maj.-Gen. Adeyemi Yekini, confirmed the report but said he was yet to have any record of deaths in the battle.
“Yes, our men went on patrol along Gbajimba and encountered the herdsmen but we have no record of death or injury yet because our troops are still on the field. However, I’ll let you know as soon as possible.”
It would be recalled that since January this year, Guma Local Government Area has come under several attacks by armed herdsmen which has left many killed and thousands others reduced to internally displaced persons in their own land.
Only a few months ago, soldiers on surveillance along Benue/Nasarawa borders were attacked by herdsmen militia in which two soldiers lost their lives and some others were injured.