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In Nasarawa Army denies killing 6 herdsmen, says herdsmen militia killed 2 soldiers

The army said militia herdsmen attacked its troops and injured five during an operation last week.

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Nigerian soldiers (illustration)

(Premium Times)

The Nigerian Army has denied that its troops killed six herdsmen and 150 cows in Nasarawa State, claiming instead that two soldiers were killed by militia herdsmen after a military raid on their camp.

Six herdsmen had been reportedly killed in Keana local government area of Nasarawa after an operation allegedly carried out by military men from neighbouring Benue State last week.

The chairman of the Nasarawa chapter of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Muhammed Hussein, alleged that the soldiers invaded a Fulani settlement and shot six, including a traditional title holder.

According to the Director of Defence Information, Brig.-Gen. John Agim, troops attached to Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS) raided a suspected herdsmen militia camp at Barkin Kota village in Keana, before the the criminals reorganised and attacked troops, killing two soldiers and injuring five.

He said reinforcement was called in to successfully repel the militia's attack and inflict casualty on their side, recovering one AK-47 rifle, two locally-made guns, one pistol, one axe and 800 rounds of 7.62mm special.

Brig.-Gen. Agim said Miyetti Allah's admission that the casualties of the shootout were its members will be investogated.

He said, "So on the allegation by the chairman of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN), Mohammed Hussein, that OPWS killed six herdsmen and 150 cows, I wish to make it clear that the Special Forces troops of OPWS did not kill herdsmen or cows as claimed by the MACBAN chairman in Lafia. It is completely false and unfounded.

"The truth of the matter is that on June 26, 2018, at about 6 am, some troops of OPWS carried out a cordon and search operation at a suspected herdsmen militia camp at Barkin Kota village in Keana Local Government Area of Nasarawa State.

"After the initial success of the operation, the militia elements reorganised and attacked our team, killing two soldiers and injuring five personnel, including the Officer Commanding, who led the operation.

"Following this incidence, some troops of OPWS were mobilised for reinforcement. In the fire fight that ensued, some of the militia must have sustained some casualties as we were able to extricate our men that were injured.

"In the course of the fighting, OPWS troops recovered one AK-47 rifle fitted with magazine, two locally made guns, one pistol, one axe and 800 rounds of 7.62mm special. This was the criminal group that our troops were able to destroy their camp.

"So, for the chairman of Nasarawa State chapter of MACBAN to identify and associate them as members of his association begs for questions and answers.

"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."

Brig.-Gen. Agim further disclosed that cattle herders have been suffering from issues of rustling by criminal elements, a practice he said the military has been trying to curb to bring about sustainable peace.

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