Armed men yesterday launched a vicious attack on the Harga community in the Katsina-Ala Local Government Area of Benue State, killed a policeman and critically injured another. The identity of the policeman was not known at press time, but he was said to have been posted recently to the area.
The armed men, believed to be foot soldiers of the neutralised notorious warlord, Terwase Akwaza alias Gana, also set ablaze a police station and several houses. A resident of Harga, Mr. Jirgba Ategba, told the New Telegraph on the phone that the attackers struck about 4am while the people were still sleeping. Ategba said that scores of residents had deserted their homes. The Chairman of the local government, Alfred Atera, confirmed the killing of a police officer and the burning of a police station alongside many other houses.
The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Catherine Sewuese Anene, also confirmed the attack in a statement. She said: “A team of police of ficers engaged the criminals in a gun duel during which many of the hoodlums sustained gunshot injuries and ran into the forest.
“Two policemen also sustained gunshot injuries and were rushed to the General Hospital, Katsina- Ala, where one of them was confirmed dead. The other is receiving treatment. “Cordon-and-search operation is ongoing at Harga and one suspect has been arrested.” Also, troops of the Operation Whirl-Stroke (OPWS) said they, in collaboration with the police, neutralised one of the suspected attackers who they said was caught with over 200 rounds of ammunition. “We noticed the presence of the attackers and we quickly alerted the DPO who also mobilised and swiftly moved to the area to find out what was happening.
“Unfortunately, as soon as they sighted the policemen, the gunmen opened fire on them, killing one of the policemen in the process. “It was at that point that we quickly alerted troops of OPWS who were stationed at Gbishe (late Gana’s territory) close to us here in Harga and they wasted no time in responding to our calls. “As I speak with you now, the military are on the trail of the attackers,” a military source said. However, the OPWS Commander, Maj. Gen. Adeyemi Yekini, told journalists on the phone that he “cannot comment on an ongoing operation”. He said: “We are in operation around that axis and I can’t comment further on an ongoing operation.”