According to an exclusive report by SaharaReporters, fighter aircraft of the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Air Force have begun air strikes on Bonta community in Shangev Tiev, Konshisha Local Government Area of Benue State, to destroy the camps of unknown gunmen, believed to be militants from the South-East.
SaharaReporters learnt that the military jets after leaving Essien Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State on Tuesday where they had been engaging operatives of the Eastern Security Network, were redirected to Benue State to continue air interdictions.
SaharaReporters gathered from eyewitnesses that the aircraft flew at low level as they released gunfire, forcing residents to run in different directions as the deafening bombardments continued on Tuesday.
“The aircraft flew as low as 5 to 10 metres above the roof level with a wicked soldier who was shooting randomly and emptying a lot of magazines in motion,” a witness stated.
“It all started this morning, when Nigerian military attacked the people of Bonta in Shangev Tiev, Konshisha LGA using aircraft. This unexpected attack made everyone run out of the villages and look for a secure place to lay low,” another resident said.
“There are actually reports of deaths from the bullets, the shock from the unexpected attack and the loud sound and vibration from the aircraft. There have truly been communal clashes between the people of Shangev Tiev and the Igede community in Okpute.
“Some military men were caught in the clash when they were attacked by some Shangev Tiev youths on their way to their place of assignment. Now, the military have come to avenge the attack on their members,” another source revealed.
The Nigerian military confirmed the aerial strikes in Benue, saying they were from troops of Operation Whirl Stroke who came to engage attackers who had ambushed some soldiers days earlier.
“Some soldiers deployed to maintain peace between two warring communities of Konshisha and Oju LGAs respectively were ambushed. The soldiers were said to be on routine patrol in parts of Konshisha and Oju LGAs at about 5pm when the armed attackers seized them and went away with about eight soldiers after they opened fire on the troops.
“The military then went to reinforce and are back to the community,” a military source stated.
Only on Tuesday, the military aircraft had also caused an uproar in Essien Udim, Akwa Ibom, when the gunmen were targeted in aerial strikes for earlier killing a Chief Superintendent of Police, Benedict Okoh Ajide and other police officers.
The gunmen also killed a yet-to-be-ascertained number of military officers while many others were injured.
The policemen and soldiers were said to be in the community for peacekeeping efforts.