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Christmas tragedy: Gunmen attack Benue community, kill 3, injure 5.

Just while the dust raised by the killing of two persons in Odonto community in Otukpo Local Government Area of Benue State was trying to settle, three persons have been killed by some yet to be identified gunmen in Utonkon community of Ado Local Government Area of the state.

The attackers who reportedly invaded the Utonkon community on the eve of Christmas took the villagers who were busy preparing for the Yuletide unawares as they were said to have stormed the area on motorcycles and shot randomly killing three persons and injuring five others in the process.

According to sources from the area, the gunmen stormed the village at the time some members of the community were gathered to share the cow they had jointly bought for the Christmas celebration and the council chairman, Mrs. Blessing Unogwu was also distributing Christmas gifts to stakeholders in the area.

An eyewitness who gave his name as Egiri said the gunmen numbering about five had stormed the community on motorcycles at about 2pm and started shooting sporadically at the people who were busy sharing the meat they bought for the Christmas festivity.

“The people started scampering for safety while women and children were crying and running into nearby bushes to take cover but some persons were not so lucky as they were gunned down in cold blood.

“The armed men at a point came down from their motorcycles and started moving from one compound to another, as if they were searching for something or somebody, shooting at anything in sight including animals. And when they were done shooting, they mounted their motorcycles and sped away.

“As we speak, the injured have been rushed to the General hospital in Igumale while the Utonkon community has been thrown into mourning. The people are fleeing their homes to neighbouring villages for safety and for fear that the attackers may return and cause more mayhem.”

The Council boss in a telephone chat with newsmen yesterday (Monday) disclosed that the gunmen numbering about five invaded the area on motorcycles and started shooting at anyone in sight adding that the local government protocol officer and four other staff ran into them but were lucky to have escaped unhurt.

”The incident occurred at a time that my protocol officer and four other persons were in the community with some goats given to me by His Excellency, Benue state governor to distribute to stakeholders in the area. They were distributing the items when the armed men came on bikes (motorcycles) and began to shoot sporadically.

”There was no problem on ground in the community. Everybody was going about his or her normal and legal businesses when suddenly, hoodlums came with this deadly attack.

”While the shooting was going on, the protocol officer immediately called me,and l quickly drew the attention of the divisional police officer (DPO) who mobilised his men and we rushed to the area but before we got there, the invaders have all escaped.

She however disclosed that the police eventually caught one of the suspects with a pistol adding that the suspect had already been taken to the state police headquarters in Makurdi for further interrogation.

“Interestingly, this morning (Monday), the DPO called to informed me that they have been able to arrest one of the attackers with a pistol. As I am talking to you now, the DPO is on his way taking the suspect caught with a pistol to the state CID in Makurdi.”

Mrs. Unogwu appealed to state government to mobilise more security agents to Ado local government areas to forestall any other attack so as to allow the people celebrate their christmas in the atmosphere of peace.

Meanwhile, the Benue state Police command while confirming the attack in the area disclosed that three persons died and five others who were seriously injured in the attack had been taken to the hospital for treatment.

The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), ASP Moses Yamu said, “the information at my disposal indicated that the attack was carried out by two yet-to- be identified gunmen who stormed the village on motorbikes. But investigation into the matter has commenced. We have drafted more police to the area.”

The police image maker however assured the people of the area of adequate security even as he urged them to remain calm and go about the Christmas celebration without any fear. He appealed to them also never to take laws into their hands but report any suspicious movement to the police.


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