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Many Feared killed As Soldiers, Bandits Clash In Plateau



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Scores of people believed to be bandits were feared killed on Saturday when they clashed with soldiers in Mangu Local Government Area of Plateau State.

It was learnt that the hoodlums were on their way to attack an unknown village around 7.30 am following the relaxation of the 24-hour curfew in the council area when they were confronted by soldiers along the Gindiri Road, leading to the death of many of them.

The Chairman, Mangu Local Government Area, Marcus Artu, confirmed the development to PUNCH Online in Jos, the state capital, on Saturday but could not give casualty figures

He said, “What I was told is that some attackers came out in large numbers this morning (Saturday) and wanted to attack the people but the soldiers repelled them.

“As for the number of attackers killed by the soldiers, I cannot tell you because I don’t have the information yet.”

But a resident of Mangu, Philip Jato, told our correspondent that many of the bandits were killed during the confrontation while several others were apprehended by the security forces.

Jato said, “I can confirm to you that several of the gunmen were killed by the soldiers. Some of them were also taken into custody but the situation is calm now, although people are still leaving in fear.”

Meanwhile, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, has urged troops of Operation Hakorin Damisa to immediately bring an end to the menace of insecurity in the state

Speaking on Saturday in an interview with journalists during his tour of the troubled Council Area, Lagbaja expressed confidence in the abilities of his men to stop the incessant attacks, particularly in Mangu LG.

He said, “After I flagged off Operation Hakorin Damisa in Mangu, the charge I gave you was to end all forms of criminality, and even after then, I have had to come back in December last year.

“In the past one week, we have experienced another round of violence here in Mangu and I have had a chat with your Commander on the security situation on the Plateau, especially in Mangu.”

He, however, admitted that the situation had become complex as a result of the ethnic and religious dimension that has been introduced into it but further insisted that the rules of engagement must be strictly adhered to by the troops.

He reiterated, “As soldiers, your focus is on one thing: stamp out the criminality and violence once and for all as I will not come back here except to go to the field myself.”

Speaking on the allegation that his men were complicit and taking sides, he said they had investigated the claims but found it baseless and lacking any element of truth.

The COAS noted, “These allegations are unsubstantiated and have been found not to be true. In fact, even the Governor whom I spoke with earlier confirmed this despite initially holding a contrary view.”

He added, “Some of our men are from Mangu Local Government and would not have witnessed such incidents and kept quiet.”

The Army chief embarked on an on-the-spot assessment of damaged churches and property.

He also called members of the public to always call on the troops and the military emergency lines whenever the situation warrants and also give him direct feedback and reports as that has been done in the past.

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