NEWS AGENCY OF NIGERIA
(with additional reporting by Beegeagle)
14 July, 2012
The Special Task Force (STF) charged with maintaining peace in Plateau has given inhabitants of some crisis-prone villages 48 hours to vacate the settlements.
A statement signed by STF spokesman, Capt. Salisu Mustapha, said in Jos on Saturday that a “military operation’’ was going on in the affected areas located in Barkin-Ladi and Riyom Local Governments. Among the affected villages are Mahanga, Kakuruk, Maseh and Shong 2.
“The inhabitants of the affected areas are to vacate immediately with their property,’’ the statement stated. The statement, however, advised residents of neighbouring settlements such as KuraFalls, Kuzuk, Sharuk, Rim of Gashish Districts not to panic.
“Residents of such areas should just be very careful of their movement within the area and avoid places of military operation until further notice,’’ the statement said. It also advised people to report any suspicious movement or activities in their areas. The military action may have resulted from the incessant attacks by gunmen on some communities in the areas.
The attacks reached a crescendo on Sunday when a serving senator, Gyang Dantong, and Mr Gyang Fulani, Majority Leader in the Plateau House of Assembly,lost their lives in a stampede after gunmen attacked them at Maseh village during a burial ceremony. The two lawmakers had gone to the village to join others for the mass burial of several dozens of villagers that were killed in earlier attacks by gunmen.
NTA News reports monitored by this writer showed troops clad in camouflage uniforms and backed by Ford Ranger 4WD trucks, Otokar Cobra armoured personnel carriers who were personally led by the Force Commander, Major General Henry Ayoola, scouting in hill-bound villages while two hovering Mil attack helicopters conducted surveiilance sweeps over highland areas, apparently in search of terrorists and Fulani ethnic militiamen who are believed to be holed up in the highlands from where there prey on comparatively defenceless communities of indigenous peoples.
All the pointers suggest that the impending highland offensive shall be a wholly military operation as none of the allied contingents of Nigeria Police Mobile Force, Anti Bomb Squad and Anti Terrorism Squad or State Security Service and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps personnel, all of whom work in conjunction with the military on routine combined operations, were seen participating in the scouting mission, snippets of which were aired on NTA News.