Armed bandits, in the early hours of Thursday, killed a Police officer and burnt several houses including a police station in Tse Harga community of Katsina-Ala Local Government Area in Benue State.
It was gathered that the bandits suspected to be loyalists of the slain criminal kingpin, Terwase Akwaza popularly known as ‘Gana’, stormed the rural area at about 4:00 am and started shooting sporadically even as they set ablaze several buildings and a police pick-up van.
It was also learnt that troops of Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS), in collaboration with the Police, killed one of the suspected bandits in a swift counter-response to the attack during which they recovered over 200 rounds of ammunition.
A resident of the area told our correspondent by telephone that the armed bandits stormed the area in their numbers early in the morning and began to unleash terror on the people, adding however that the soldiers arrived at the scene on time to chase the bandits away.
The residents, who also confirmed that a police station and many houses were set ablaze, said he could not immediately ascertain the number of people killed.
The Council Chairman of Katsina-Ala, Alfred Atera, told our correspondent by telephone that one policeman was killed in the attack while the police station, a police vehicle and several houses were burnt by the bandits.
Atera explained that, due to the security challenges in the local government areas, the youths in Tse Harga formed a vigilante group and have been doing well to contain insecurity in their domain.
“The armed bandits targetted the youth who formed themselves into a vigilante group.
“They stormed the area (Tse Harga), burn the police station, police pick-up van and killed a policeman there.
“They also burnt several houses which I cannot ascertain now. But as for the locals, nobody was killed,” he explained.
He added that the incident caused more people to flee the already deserted vicinity, leaving at home only brave men to withstand the challenges.
The council chairman, however, noted that the quick intervention of security agencies and soldiers of OPWS had restored calm to the community.
When contacted, Force Commander OPWS, Major General Adeyemi Yekini, simply said, “we are in operation around that axis but I can’t comment further on an ongoing operation.
“You may wish to contact the Directorate of Defence Information, Defence Headquarters in Abuja, thanks.”
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) for Benue Command, DSP Catherine Anene, on her part, confirmed the killing of a policeman in the affected area.
Anene maintained at the time of sending this report that the details of the attack were still sketchy.