Suspected herdsmen have struck again in central Nigerian state of Benue, killing at least one State Security Service (SSS) personnel while abducting two others, multiple security sources familiar with the incident PREMIUM TIMES reports.
At least one soldier was also killed in the attack in the restive Logo Local Government Area on Sunday, PREMIUM TIMES learnt. Another soldier was also feared kidnapped.
“We confirmed one SSS officer killed, two of them were abducted,” a security source said. “We are currently searching for them.”
The Defence Headquarters confirmed the killing and abduction of soldiers in a statement on Monday evening, but the SSS has yet to speak on its losses.
The SSS officers were embedded with a contingent of troops as part of a new push to drive away the killer herdsmen who have been on killing spree in Benue and other states across the north-central in recent months.
Hundreds of Nigerians are estimated to have been killed in deadly attacks linked to herdsmen in central parts of the country this year alone.
The fatal ambush on SSS officers and soldiers is one of the most audacious so far against security agents by the killer herdsmen.
Five weeks ago, at least 10 police officers were killed in a dusk attach by gunmen, who also reportedly kidnapped several officers.
While most of the suspected herdsmen who carried out the attack against the police officers escaped, the soldiers were said to have killed dozens of their attackers and injured even more.
“In all 35 herdsmen were neutralised and a large number of them escaped with gun shot injuries,” Defence spokesperson, John Agim, said in a statement to PREMIUM TIMES about the incident.
In separate raids across Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa states, several suspected herdsmen were arrested. Arms and ammunition of different capacities were also caught with the suspects and seized.
All the suspects and the items recovered from them would be passed on to the SSS for further investigation, Mr Agim said.
Benue has been particularly hard hit by the spike in deadly assaults linked to suspected herdsmen, some of whom President Muhammadu Buhari suggested might not be from the country. He also said the powerful weapons being deployed by the attackers were smuggled in from Libya by suspected mercenaries of that country’s former leader, Muammar Gaddafi.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo visited Logo LGA last week, during which he toured some camps for the internally displaced persons. He promised to ensure that peace returned to the communities as soon as possible in order to avoid a full blown humanitarian disaster.
As at early April, at least 200,000 people have fled their villages due to the deadly rampage by herdsmen, according to official estimates by state emergency officials.