21 herdsmen have reportedly been killed by troops of the Military Operation code-named Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS), who patrolled Gbajimba-Akor-Tomata axis of Guma Local Government Area of Benue State in the last three weeks.
Though one soldier was killed in the process and two others injured, the Force Commander of OPWS, Major General Adeyemo Yekini who spoke to newsmen at a press briefing in the state on Monday, said the 21 herdsmen were killed in two separate operations on August 4th and last Saturday, August 18.
“During the firefight, the Mi35 spotted a group of about 20 armed herdsmen riding on motorcycles moving along the axis towards Nasarawa State.
“Fifteen of the armed herdsmen on the motorcycles were neutralised with rocket fire from the Mi35 while others escaped with varying degrees of injuries.
“OPWS troops lost one soldier while two others sustained gunshots wounds. The two personnel are currently responding to treatment at NAF Base Hospital.”
According to Major Yekini, troops recovered one AK 47 rifle, two AK 47 magazines, 60 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition and five motorcycles during the operations. He further disclosed that OPWS raided Tse Akwaza camp belonging to Benue’s notorious gang leader, Terwase Akwaza (aka Gana) on Sunday, using airstrikes by Mi35 which neutralised key buildings before troops moved in for mop-up operation. However it is not clear if Gana was killed in the raid.
“It was not clear if Gana was killed during the assault, but a trail of blood seen in the building suspected to be where he slept, suggests he might have been hit.
“A motorcycle usually used by Gana was also badly damaged during the air strike. Efforts are in progress to confirm if Gana was killed in the attack and if not, we will still go after him.”
He further disclosed that OPWS also recovered assorted automatic weapons and ammunition from armed militiamen since the beginning of the operation six weeks ago.