By G9ija

Six villagers have been killed with three soldiers injured by armed invaders in a fresh attack on Ikobi community of Apa Local Government Area (LGA) in Benue State, according to the military.

One of the locals said that soldiers of Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS) stationed at Agagbe responded to a distress call and during the process, they had encountered armed invaders at Tse-Abwa, Mbapa council ward in Gwer West LGA.

Another local explained that the soldiers had on Saturday responded to the distress call when Ikobi community in Apa LGA was under invasion, adding that the soldiers repelled the attackers but were later ambushed on their way back to Agagbe on Sunday at Mbapa council ward of Gwer West LGA.

“The incident occurred in the communities bordering both Apa and Gwer West LGAs,” he stated.

Similarly, a resident of Ikobi said six persons were killed by the armed invaders in the community at the weekend while a few others were still missing.

The resident added that four of the deceased were killed on Saturday while the other two were killed two days earlier.

“On the 2nd of February, armed invaders macheted a man called Usman Ochowechi in his farm close to his village of Oloke in Ikobi and they sent him a message that he should tell the Ikobi people that they are coming, which they did, attacking and killing two persons.

“Miss Eba Usman was still missing on the 3rd of February in Ikobi Ochekwu, Apa LGA. They came back again on 4th February and killed four persons in the same Ikobi. The deceased are Edeh Baba, Innocent Owoicho, Ochekpe Ajekpa and Abugbe.”

Corroborating the Ikobi killings, a lawmaker representing Apa constituency at the State House of Assembly, Abu Umoru, confirmed the killings.

“It’s a confirmed story, suspected herders invaded the Ikobi community and so far, six lives have been lost within the past four days. They could be more. We had to put a call through to OPWS and the commander has mobilised soldiers to the community.

“People have fled their homes so we can’t even know the exact number of casualties for now,” Umoru said.

Meanwhile, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in Benue State, Catherine Anene, said she does not have the information.

But, OPWS Public Relations Officer, Flight Lieutenant Katty Audu, in a statement confirmed the attack on Ikobi community, saying three soldiers were wounded in the encounter with armed herders.

“Troops of Operation Whirl Stroke received information about an attack on Ikobi community on the 4th of February 2023 at about 5 pm and responded immediately. The gallant troops moved to the area and cleared the community. The rampaging armed herders fled towards Nasarawa State on sighting the troops.

“The situation though dicey has been stabilised. The operation continued the next day, 5th of February 2023 in adjoining communities. While the troops were moving towards Agagbe, they had contact with some bandits.

“The bandits fired at the troops and our troops engaged them with superior firepower that lasted for about 30 minutes. Three of our troops sustained various degrees of injury. The injured troops are currently receiving treatment,” Audu stated.

Local sources had earlier told Channels Television that a soldier was killed and two of his colleagues were seriously injured after an encounter with the gunmen who invaded the rural Ikobi community over the weekend during which six people were killed.

One of the locals said “Two soldiers sustained serious injury and one was killed.”