Two soldiers have lost their lives and five others injured including a Commanding Officer, when armed herdsmen attacked them in the Keana Local Government Area of Nasarawa State.
The soldiers are said to be attached to the troops of Operation Whirl Stroke, established on June 8 by the Nigeria military to restore peace and security in Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba and Zamfara witnessing herdsmen’s crises.
This was disclosed in a statement issued in Abuja, by the acting Director of Defence Information, Brig-Gen. John Agim.
He said despite the casualties, the troops were able to arrest 21 militias in Nasarawa and 13 others in Benue. Weapons recovered from them includes, one AK-47 rifle, two locally-made guns and 800 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition.
The press briefing is to keep the public abreast of activities and achievements of the operation.
Agim said, “Some troops of the Operation Whirl Stroke carried out a cordon and search operation at a suspected herdsmen militia camp at the Bakin Kota village in the Keana LGA of Nasarawa State on June 26, at 6am. After the operation, the militia elements regrouped and attacked our team, killing two soldiers and injuring five personnel including the Officer Commanding.
“Following this incident, some troops were mobilised for reinforcement. In the firefight that ensued, some of the militia sustained injuries. Our troops were able to destroy their camp.
“The Chairman of the Nasarawa State branch of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, Mohammed Hussein, later accused the military of killing six Fulani herdsmen and hundreds of cattle in the newspapers on June 28. This is not true. The information is completely false and unfounded.
“We want the people in these four states to go about their lawful duties without fear of molestation from any quarters. We have done this at a great cost to our personnel which include some who died.
“While the military is not in a hurry to link MACBAN to this militia, investigation has begun to unravel those behind the death of our men. The military is ready to take down those who are responsible alongside their sponsors no matter how highly placed.”
The military spokesperson said apart from the 34 suspects arrested in Benue and Nasarawa, 20 weapons were recovered.
“So far, the troops have arrested 21 suspects, recovered 20 weapons and 882 rounds of assorted ammunition in Nasarawa State. Similarly, 13 suspects have been apprehended in Benue State. The Air Force component has flown a total of 54 sorties totalling 90 hours and 25 minutes, using the Mi-35 helicopter gunship, the F-7Ni supersonic jet and the Mi-35M,” Agim noted.