TENSION; Residents flee as Military battles notorious bandits in Benue community

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A huge number of dwellers have fled Kastina-Ala rural environs following sustained Military operations to raid the area and get rid of suspected bandits who are said to be loyalists to the deceased Benue State criminal kingpin, Terwase Akwaza, popularly known as Gana.

The federal government drafted a special Military operation to the areas after series of activities of the dreaded late Gana and his gang, who held hostage three local government areas of Ukum, Logo and Kastina-Ala.

Residents told newsmen in Makurdi on Tuesday night that most of the suburbs in Kastina-Ala Local Government Area of the State had become empty as residents have relocated to the State capital, Makurdi, and other peaceful neighborhoods.

A resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Soldiers of Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS) had, in recent times, dealt with criminals in the area while alleging that they were also arresting people indiscriminately.

The resident said he had relocated with his family, just like many others, to Makurdi for fear of being killed in the operation.

Another residents, who also didn’t want his name on print, said though the Soldiers had targeted the criminals, it was worrisome that the bandits were divided on parallel lines, fighting each other and making life unbearable for the rural dwellers.

“Kastina-Ala is not safe. The bandits are wreaking havoc while fighting themselves on grounds that some of them were sold out to the soldiers who are clamping down on them (criminals).

“It’s a rival militants attacks and that’s worrisome,” the resident alleged.

The Chief Press Secretary to the Chairman of the local government area, Tertsea Benga, confirmed that some people, at least 30, in the area had been arrested by soldiers and their whereabouts unknown.

Benga said; “those arrested in Anyom tyugh was on the January 30, 2021 while that of Kenvanger was on the November 21, 2020; both communities in Mbatyula council ward in Katsina Ala LG.

“Up till now, the whereabouts of the arrested persons are unknown.

“Efforts made by the leaders of both the affected communities through the military to ascertain the position of the acclaim suspects proved abortive as military always assured of their safety without seeing them.”

Meanwhile, the OPWS Force Commander, Major General Adeyemi Yekini, when contacted, declined any comment about the matter, insisting that the Media Office of the Defence Headquarters in Abuja should be contacted for feedback.

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