Police evacuate women, children • Over 1000 residents displaced
An attack similar to that of Dogo Nahawa in 2010 was staged before dawn in Gashish District, Barkin Ladi Local government area of Plateau State where nine villages were invaded by unknown gunmen.
The casualties included mostly women, children and the aged.
The gun men were said to have divided themselves into five groups with each group taking on one village.
With this strategy, five villages were attacked at the same time, while total numbers of villages attacked according to source are nine.
Villages attacked are Kakuruk, Kuzen Ngyo, Kogoduk, Ruk, Dogo, Nyar etc
Eye witness said the gunmen were dressed in bullet-proof vest in military camouflage.
A mobile policeman whose name cannot be ascertained immediately and a member of the Special Task Force (STF) was said to have lost his life in the attack.
Many in Barkin Ladi are suspecting the attack was backed by military due to the tactics used by the attackers as well as the weapon used.
Michael Dadu said, “I saw the attackers, I can’t explain how I escaped, they killed three members of vigilante group of the village who tried to repel them. They were in military uniform, the type used by the STF and they escaped before the mobile police came in”
Sources said the police had to evacuate hundreds of women and children from Nyar village over fear that the attackers might return at night. One of the police who would not want to be named said, “What is happening here is beyond our power, we don’t have enough men to protect all the villages, so we have to evacuate people from some villages to the local government headquarters so that we have fewer villages to keep vigil, because we don’t know what may happen at night”
Dadu said, “The recent attacks twice in a week is strategic, my mind is telling me that the attack has to be sustained so that Plateau State will be counted among crisis states. The last state of emergency just expired and is been reviewed for extension or suspension.
“There has been peace in Barkin Ladi, since the last four months, why the attacks, why now, something is happening somewhere and these attacks are staged to achieve a purpose” Dadu said.
An Ibo trader in Barkin Ladi, Uche Timothy said, “I can’t imagine what is happening here, last Tuesday we heard some armed Fualni killed a MOPOL attached to the STF, the soldiers pursued them to their villages but the attackers escaped and the STF allegedly set their houses ablaze.
“Last Wednesday youths of Barkin Ladi staged a peaceful demonstration to show their displeasure over the ineffectiveness of the STF. The demonstration did not lead to any violence, but Friday night some armed men invaded so many communities with guns and a lot of people were killed”
A victim undergoing treatment at the Barkin Ladi General Hospital, Serah Dauda said, “While the attack was on at night, no soldier came to our rescue and they are everywhere in Barkin Ladi, it was the mobile police that came to help the people, this made us suspect the soldiers have a hand in this very attack”
A man who lost his wife in the attack, Abel Dangyang said, “I don’t see the value of the soldier said to be posted to restore peace, this is frustrating, we sent distress calls to the STF since 4am after our escape, but the soldiers never came until the attackers achieved what they wanted. Can you imagine the STF helicopter came to Barkin Ladi by 9:30am long after the attackers had finished their business and fled?”
Member representing Barkin Ladi in the Plateau State House of Assembly, Gyang Fulani said, “Nine villages in my constituency were attacked simultaneously by unknown gunmen. I’m yet to get any detail from security agencies, but my people told me the gunmen were armed with sophisticated weapon and invaded the people in their sleep. I have confirmed nine people killed in Kakuruk village, another eight were killed in Ruk. These are the ones I saw with my eyes, there could be more, the security agencies will give the confirmed figures because I saw them collecting information right there, though people complained they came too late to the scene.”
Both Police and the STF were unable to issue statement on the attack in Barkin Ladi, as at 6pm yesterday, the police spokesman said, “See my friend, I can’t confirm any casualty now our men and the police commissioner himself are still in the battle front, it is a serious case, I can’t give you any information now”
As at 7pm, the STF spokesman Captain Salisu Mustapher said on phone,”The STF has been able to control the situation, we are just returning from the scene, we will issue statement later, just give us time.”
Fulani, the law maker from Barkin Ladi said, “My constituency is under siege, and we have no protection here, the STF here are not helping us, I have raised this concern several times, yet the federal government has not proffer solution other than imposing state of emergency in Barkin Ladi without any form of reinforcement. I am thinking of taking my case to the international community for help.
“I can confirm that even the soldiers here are part of our problem, we can do without them since they are incapable of preventing attacks and this magnitude of casualties, then why are they here?”
Chairman of Barkin Ladi LGA, Emmanuel Loman said, “When I got the alert of the attack 5:30am, this morning (Satruday), I called the STF and they told me they were coming, I waited for hours for them, it was the MOPOL that came promptly and I went with them to the scene and what I saw were butchered bodies of victims and burnt houses, ten villages were attacked and most of their houses razed.
“The information I am getting from Maseh village bordering Riyom LGA, about 30 people were killed there. From some of the attacked villages police are still searching the bush and picking corpses, so the casualty figure is going to be higher after all.”