- Nine people have reportedly been killed following an invasion of gunmen at a funeral ceremony in Benue state
- The chairman of the Kastina-Ala local government area of Benue state who confirmed the incident said three other mourners sustained various degrees of gunshot wounds
- According to the chairman, the incident occurred on Saturday, February 26, after an operation by some soldiers of the Nigerian military
Some gunmen have reportedly invaded a funeral ceremony in Mbakange village of Mbacher ward in Kastina-Ala local government area of Benue State killing nine mourners.
Daily Trust reports that the incident occurred on Saturday, February 27, causing villagers to run for safety.
It was gathered that the gunmen arrived at the funeral venue and opened fire on the mourners, killing nine of them on the spot.
Confirming the incident, the chairman of Kastina-Ala LGA, Alfred Atera, said gunmen had arrived at the funeral of a tax collector, Zaki Atser Nor, in Mbakange, Mbacher Ward.
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According to Atera, the gunmen killed nine mourners including one who has been identified as Zaki Isaac Vaatyouhh Gande.
Atera said that three other mourners sustained some gunshot wounds and are currently receiving medical treatment.
In addition, Atera said the attack was a reprisal by the gunmen for the operation carried out in the area by troops of Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS) the previous day.
The chairman of the LGA said a notorious criminal in the vicinity popularly known as Junta was killed.
“You know one of the boys, Junta was killed. It was a reprisal. On Friday, the military carried out another operation during which Apaapa and Orbutee were also killed so it was a reprisal.
“I’m on my way from that place now where l went to condole with the family. I also expressed my disappointment; what we normally do here is that we provide security for any burial but they said they didn’t want security thinking that the presence of the security will attract the boys."
Military reactions to the killing
In his reaction to the incident, the force commander of the OPWS, Major General Kevin Aligbe, said the attack was not in reprisal of the command's operation.
Aligbe added some bandits had already submitted their weapons to the military high command two weeks ago.
“They have just made up their mind that they are going to make the place unsafe for law-abiding citizens.
But in the next two weeks, we are going to get all of them that is a sure promise to Benue people."
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According to newspaper reports, the burial was that of a suspected leader of a cult group, named Ozo.
The corpse was seen in a video lying in state when the cultists invaded the burial venue, leading to mourners scampering for safety.
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