Soldiers’ stray bullets kill teenage boy, injure others in Benue
Soldiers’ stray bullets in Jato Aka village, Benue State have allegedly killed a teenage boy, while several were wounded. The Guardian learnt that the incident started when a vigilance group arrested some gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen.
According to a source in the village, the suspects were said to have called some soldiers stationed in Kashimbila camp whose attempt to forcibly free them was resisted by the youths.
This, the source added, led the soldiers to shoot into air to disperse the crowed, leading to the death of the boy, whose name was given as Ayem Atume. The late boy, a student, was said to be taking his lunch in his compound near the scene of the incident when the bullet killed him.
The tragedy has reportedly created tension in the village as it happened a day after some unidentified gunmen in military uniform attacked a yam market in Zaki Biam, in Ukum Local Council area, killing many people.
Others who reportedly sustained injuries in the attack were Gbenda Lukera, Orngu Aondoga, Kator Atime, Aondongu Amenga, Terseer Deban Igbalumun Sam Aya and two others yet to be identified.
When the police Public Relations Officer, Moses Yamu, was contacted for confirmation, he referred our correspondent to the army spokesperson. The army representative, Major Olabisi Ayeni, who is an Assistant Director, 707 Army Special Forces Brigade, Makurdi, confirmed the incident.
He explained that some youths had mounted an illegal roadblock on the Jato-Taraba road and arrested some innocent road users. He said: “They were indiscriminately lynching the suspects on the allegation that they were Fulani herdsmen. When our soldiers got a distress call, they moved into the scene and were able to rescue seven of the people whom we evacuated to our base in Jato.
“While this was going on, the aggrieved youths regrouped and surrounded the military base camp, demanding that the seven commuters be handed over to them. They became aggressive by throwing stones into the camp and later fired gunshots., which killed the boy and destroyed our operational vehicles.” Olabisi denied the claim that the troops were protecting the Fulani herdsmen.