Ten bodies of suspected insurgents littered Mararaban Giza, a community in Keana local government area of the northern state, after an invasion by security operatives deployed to restore normalcy in the locality, following series of recent communal clashes between herdsmen and the local people, Xinhua quoted residents as saying.
More than 20 corpses were also deposited at the morgue of a state-run hospital in Lafia, capital of the state, said Audu Abubakar, a resident. “Many other bodies are yet to be recovered from bushes in our area,” he added.
According to him, the soldiers, who drove in a convoy, launched an offensive on the suspected insurgents based on an intelligence report received about their activities and hideouts in Mararaba Giza and Tse-Azer communities where they were sheltered.
Sophisticated weapons were also recovered from the insurgents by soldiers who shot indiscriminately during the raid, he said, adding the criminals were caught unawares. He identified rifles and improvised explosive devises, among other items recovered from the insurgents.
State police spokesperson Umar Ismaila confirmed the incident but declined to comment on the casualties figure. “It is a military operation and they are in a better position to issue any statement. On our part, we are trying to see how the situation can be brought under control,” he said.
The police would address the media on the incident, after investigation had been concluded, he added. So far, the Nigerian military has not issued any official statement to give details of the attack and casualties figure.
Ardo Sodangi Audu, a leader of the community, said he could not give a detailed account of the incident but feared that the death toll might increase. “More bodies are being recovered,” he added.
Nigeria, with approximately 170 million population, shares land borders with Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east and Niger in the north.
The northern part of the country is plagued by violence, including attacks by the Boko Haram sect. The southern part of the country is said to be a hub of criminal activities which include oil theft or bunkering, kidnap and armed robbery attacks.
Communal clashes often paralyse commercial activities in the central state of Plateau, which shares borders with many northern states, and pockets of violence in the north central state of Benue are mostly attributed to herdsmen.