Suspected gunmen have killed no fewer than twenty-one people with many injured in an early morning attack on two communities of Barakin-Ladi local government area of Plateau State.
Tribune Online learnt that the gunmen attacked the Batain community of Heipang in Barakin-Ladi in large numbers, shooting sporadically which led to the death of seventeen people, mostly women and children.
The gunmen also moved en masse to the nearby Rayogot village, unleashed terror on the inhabitants, and killed another four.
In the Batain community, a young family of Me Dung Mark, his wife, and children were among those killed in the attack. Mr. John Mark Pam, a brother of the victims and the State Youth Leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the northern zone, said the attackers raided the village, killing his brother, his family, and others.
Speaking with our correspondent, the National President of the Berom Youth Moulders (BYM), Barrister Solomon Dalyop, confirmed that apart from the 17 people killed in Batain, two vigilantes and two women were killed in the nearby village.
Dalyop, who said the attack beat down the imagination of the people, stated that there were early reports before the attack of a large movement of gunmen from Mahanga, Gwafa, and Fass, adding that the movement was reported to the security agencies.
“When we got wind of their movement at about 8:00 pm on Wednesday, we timely informed the security agencies that they were moving and believed that the security would be on alert, but there was no proactive measure. Also, where the incident occurred is not up to a kilometer from where the security station itself.
“What happened in Rawogot ought to have been averted too; the security did not allow the people to exercise the right of self-defense. They were supposed to have gone after the attackers, but the attackers had their field days,” he lamented.
Also, a member of the State House of Assembly, representing Barakin-Ladi State Constituency, Hon. Philip Jwe, said the attack on the two communities was a rude shock to the stakeholders in the local government, adding that there was a security report of a planned attack on the people two days before the marauders struck.
“It is shocking news; 21 people were killed and many others injured. Looking at all the efforts put in place in conjunction with Operation Safe Haven, the DPO, and the traditional rulers, it is a surprise that this kind of situation can happen again.
“The rumor of this attack has been around for almost three days. I spoke with the Sector Command of Operation Safe Haven concerning this, and he said he was aware of the threat but unfortunate that this happened around 1:00 am. People are not happy about the proactiveness of the security agency; they came in after the damage had been done, though they claim that the terrain was too difficult for them to cross”.
Meanwhile, this is the second attack on Heipang village in two months. In June 2023, two villagers were killed in a similar attack.
When contacted, the Media officer at OPSH, Captain James Oya, who confirmed the incident, likened the unfortunate situation to a guerrilla attack, adding the attackers initially did not use guns but cutlass.
“Immediately after the Commander got the early warning signal, men of the OPSH were mobilized to all the likely entry routes because no specific community was mentioned, but we couldn’t have known their direction. The Commander was on the ground himself. So before the community could be spotted, it was getting late, but our men still engaged them,” he said.
He therefore appealed to the people of the state to always give prompt reports of any threat to peace in their locality adding that apart from the normal phone lines, the Commander line is also available.
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