The Defence Headquaters, says troops intervened in 19 out of the 36 villages in Plateau after receiving distress calls from villagers about attacks by militants on Dec. 24.
The Director, Defence Media Operations, Maj.-Gen. Edward Buba, said on Friday in Abuja that the militants carried out simultaneous attacks on the villages from various fronts.
He said the intervention of the troops in Bokkos and Barkin Ladi Local Governement Areas forced some of the militants to withdraw after wrecking havoc on the defenceless villagers.
“Sadly, events turned gloomy with the attack on Bokkos LGA and some part of Barkin Ladi LGA on Dec. 23.
“It should be noted that, Bokkos and Barkin Ladi LGAs span about 2,315 Square kilometres with over 350 villages, mostly dispersed.
“The distance between some of these villages and troops’ locations is over 90 kilometres and sometimes difficult to access because of the rugged terrain which are mostly inaccessible to vehicles.
“Thus, affecting the reaction time to incidents, except when there is credible intelligence before the attack.”
Buba said over 100 marauding armed militant herders suspected to be mercenaries, carried out the series of unprovoked attacks from multiple fronts on Kambarpeli village in Bokkos while the locals were asleep.
“The militants unleashed mayhem on the villagers before arrival of troops to the location,” he added.
Buba said the troops received a total of 36 distress calls from diverse locations simultaneously on Dec. 24 at about 1900 hours.
He said the distress calls reported series of coordinated attacks by armed militant herders on isolated villages in the two local government areas.
“Troops responded to the calls and were able to intervene in 19 villages forcing the militants to withdraw.
“Unfortunately, the havoc had been committed before troops arrived the other villages,” he added.
According to him, the troops had in the second half of the year initiated kinetic and non-kinetic operations which significantly curtailed attacks between farmers and herders in the state.
“Until the recent killings in Plateau during the Christmas, the highlighted measures visibly contributed to the relative peace in Plateau, as well as the adjoining areas in Bauchi, Taraba and Kaduna States.
“Similarly, the activities of Operation Whirl Stroke significantly checkmated armed banditry, kidnapping and other crimes in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba states,” he added.
Buba assured that the military had taken necessary measures to overcome all identified challenges and ensure that such tragic occurrences were avoided in the future. (NAN)