THE Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, has ordered the deployment of Police Special Tactical Force, to investigate the invasion and destruction of properties in Zaki Biam, Benue State, on Monday.
The special force comprises Police Mobile Force (specially trained anti-riot policemen), Counter Terrorism Units, conventional policemen, Special Anti-Robbery Squad, detachment of EOD, Police K9 (sniffer dogs Section), Police Air wing (Aerial Surveillance helicopters) and other undercover operatives with their headquarters in Zaki Biam.
As contained in a statement by Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, the special team would be led by the Commissioner of Police in charge of PMF, Force Headquarters, Abuja, under the supervision of Deputy Inspector General of Police, Department of Operations.
This came as the death toll from Monday’s attack on the yam market has increased.
The attack, according to locals who spoke to the Nigerian Tribune, was the first of its nature after the attack in 2001 during Jukun/Tiv attack.
It was gathered from the locals that more corpses, including those of students of Amensi Secondary School on Yam Market Road, were recovered as well as a mad man who was hit by stray bullet.
A woman was said to have led the operation that lasted about two hours, with the gunmen wearing military uniform and black clothes.
The locals, who pleaded anonymity, said several persons were still missing, adding that the gunmen, numbering over 30 and armed with sophisticated weapons in a Toyota pick-up and a motorcycle, fired sporadically into the air to scare away the people.
“Before now, they had written a letter that they would attack the area. They wore military uniforms. They attacked Zaki Biam International Yam Market, killing 13 people and injuring over 10 persons,” they said.
A security personnel who did not want his name in print said there was security report earlier that the gunmen would attack and so, the Divisional Police Office (DPO) deployed men in banks, hotels, schools and other institutions to safeguard them.
“We were despatched as early as 8.00 a.m and the gunmen attacked by 3.00 p.m. They abducted so many people,’’ he said.
It was observed that many houses were burnt as several people fled the area, just as shops and other institutions in the area were closed down.
Many families were seen with their belongings leaving the area for fear of their lives.
Governor Samuel Ortom visited the injured persons at General Hospital, NKST Hospital, Light of Grace Hospital and St. Anthony Hospital where the corpses were deposited.
He appealed to the people to remain calm, while assuring that security personnel would be deployed in the area to restore peace.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned wanton killings in parts of the country.
Commiserating with the government and people of Benue State, he condemned “the wicked attack,” and directed security agencies to begin immediate investigation with a view to bringing the perpetrators to book.
According to a statement issued by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in Abuja, on Tuesday, while sympathising with those who lost loved ones, Buhari also prayed that God would comfort the grieving families and grant the souls of the victims, eternal rest.