A fresh round of fighting is said to have erupted in Barkin Ladi Local Government of Plateau state today.Newsdiaryonline.com learnt that attackers invaded Gashish and Kurafalls villages in the area and at least 18 people are believed to have been killed.
According to reports reaching us, 8 persons were killed at each of the attacked locations.Two additional people killed were said to be Mopols.The attackers used sophisticated weapons much to the shock of villagers.There has been no official confirmation of the death toll.Though our correspondent added that the death toll may be up to 20.The fighting today was so fierce that a police source said even the STF and the police authorities could not gain access to the villages immediately.
There is curiosity and anger however among the villagers because an STF Commander was said to have “been in the area yesterday” only for violence to erupt today.Worse still, as fighting broke out earlier today, the people said they alerted the STF as early as 6.00am but STF came in only at 10.00am, a development that the local residents find very unpleasant.Though other reporter said it was the fierceness of the fighting that made it impossible for STF men to go in earlier.
Meanwhile, as the fighting raged , villagers left their homes and went into the bush to hide.Some of them have also reported seeing helicopters hovering around the troubled areas today.The sight of helicopters created further panic among the people, it was learnt.Some sources alleged the helicopters threw bombs at some locations, but Newsdiaryonline.com could not confirm this claim.
A correspondent in Jos said what sparked today’s fighting may not be unconnected with an incident last week during which there was an attack on the Fulani community by STF.According to the story, a Corporal attached to the STF was killed in Kurafalls village by an unknown person.But the STF went in allegedly with the suspicion that the Fulani were responsible for the corporal’s death and the STF according to reports, destroyed over 50 houses belonging to Fulani people.
Today’s fighting is believed to be revenge attacks by the Fulani .As at 1.30pm today, our correspondent said “the area is still too hot”.Sources said villagers are alleging that today’s attackers came from Mahanga camp area which is said to belong to the Fulani and that is what is fuelling suspicion that it may in fact be revenge attack.But the fighting today may also have opened a new vista into the plateau crisis as it is being alleged that it was the STF attacks on the Fulani that has infuriated them into embarking on these revenge attacks on villagers today; villagers who probably had nothing to do with the attacks on Fulani settlements by STF last week after the alleged killing of a Corporal by an unknown person.
A military expert who spoke to Newsdiaryonline.com under condition of anonymity said there was the need to restrain the task force officers from carrying out reprisal attacks on the local communities in Plateau state .”What they should do is to embark on investigation of any killing; and to bring the local leaders into the picture to avert killings.Revenge attacks will only escalate the on going fightings as we are unfortunately seeing now.Now the Fulani did not attack the STF ,they went after the local people and this may be an indication that this crisis will be difficult to bring to an end”,the officer said.
The police have given assurances that they are trying to go into the battle zone to see if they could issue a statement later, a correspondent said.