The Police Command in Benue has confirmed the killing of 16 people, including two Catholic priests, in fresh attacks on Mbalon community in Gwer Local Government Area.
Fatai Owoseni, the commissioner of police, told newsmen on Tuesday in Makurdi that unknown gunmen, suspected to be herdsmen, opened fire on Catholic worshipers during morning Mass on Tuesday.
“The worshipers were attacked around 5 am during morning Mass.
“Other victims were killed during a burial ceremony later in the day,” he said.
Fatai, who described the attacks as “unfortunate”, vowed to fish out the perpetrators and bring them to justice.
He said that preliminary investigation had revealed that the herdsmen had stayed around the area for some time before carrying out the attacks.
The commissioner said that more Police personnel had been deployed to the area to forestall further attacks.
Hundreds of people have died in clashes this year between herders and farmers in central Nigeria in an outbreak of violence that has put pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari less than a year before an election he wants to contest.
The bloody clashes, linked to grazing rights and dwindling fertile land, have raised questions about the government’s ability to maintain security in the country.
Some 73 people were killed in central states in the first few days of 2018, prompting a high- profile mass burial in Benue state’s capital, Makurdi.