At least one Nigerian police officer was killed and 11 others missing after gunmen opened fire on them in Benue Sunday night, PREMIUM TIMES has learnt.
The slain officer was riding with his colleague from Anyibe to Ayilamo, both in Logo Local Government Area, when gunmen cornered them around 6:00 p.m., locals and a police officer have told PREMIUM TIMES.
“The second policeman was lucky to escape the gunshots,” a resident of Ayilamo told PREMIUM TIMES by telephone Monday night.
Some officers who responded to the attack tried to go after the killers, only to run into a waiting ambush, locals said.
“Eleven officers are missing this night,” a resident told PREMIUM TIMES from Logo LGA. “These killers should be immediately declared a terrorist group now.”
At least one police truck was set alight, locals said.
Another resident said the remains of the officer had been deposited at a local government hospital in Ayilamo.
Police commissioner Fatai Owoseni did not return PREMIUM TIMES’ requests about whether he heard learnt of the attack and how the police are responding to it.
A senior police officer at the Area Command Headquarters in Katsina Ala told PREMIUM TIMES the command had received the news.
PREMIUM TIMES has withheld the name of the slain officer because the police have yet to formally notify his family.
The incident wraps a week of deadly attacks that had left scores killed in Benue, including about 45 people on Wednesday alone. More than 1,000 people have been killed in similar attacks across the region this year alone.
No fewer than 15 police officers have been killed in Benue alone this year, in a wave of attacks whose perpetrators are becoming increasingly difficult to ascertain.
While residents across the north-central where the attacks are more pronounced insist the killers are herdsmen, President Muhammadu Buhari insists the tactics of the culprits made it difficult to categorise them as herdsmen.
The president’s position, however, differs from the views of some of his security chiefs, including the Inspector General of Police and Minister of Defence who say the attacks are direct consequences of new anti-open grazing laws in Benue and other states.