Troops of Operation Whirl Stroke (OPWS) on Wednesday evening, engaged suspected armed bandits in a fierce gun battle at Abaji in Shitile axis of Katsina Ala local government area of Benue state leading to the death of atleast four persons.
The troops also recovered one AK47 riffle and several ammunition during the encounter with the armed bandits in the area.
According to a local source, four people were killed during the shoot out.
He said the troops responded to a distress call that suspected armed bandits had gone to launch an attack on Abaji market in the Shitile community.
It was further gathered that the troops immediately mobilised to the market to repel the bandits, leading to a shootout between them and the bandits .
According to another source from Katsina Ala town who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the OPWS troops overpowered the bandits by superior firepower, following which two of the bandits were eliminated by the troops while others escaped with gunshot wounds.
However, one of the soldiers was said to have been among those who were injured during the encounter.
The source however stated that the armed bandits had earlier invaded the Abaji market and opened fire on the people, and in the process, killed four traders before troops arrived to repel them.
The troops he said chased the bandits suspected to be Gana boys and neutralized two of them, bringing the total number of causalities to six.
“It was around 4pm to 5pm this evening when we suddenly heard gunshots in and around the Abaji market and people started running for their lives. Despite running, the bandits continued shooting and in the process, killed two persons.
“We quickly alerted OPWS troops and they responded immediately and came to repel the armed bandits. The army went after the armed gang and engaged them in a gun duel.
“They were able to kill few of them because we saw two dead bodies in addition to the two persons earlier killed in the market place”, the source said.
He commended the effort of the soldiers and appealed to the federal and state governments to deploy more security personnel to the area to address the increasing spate of insecurity in the Sankera axis.
When contacted on telephone, the Police Public Relations Officer DSP Catherine Anene said she was yet to be briefed on the matter.
“Sorry, I’m waiting for report of the incident. I will get back to you once I get the report,” Anene said.
Commander of the OPWS Major General Adeyemi Yekini could not be reached when called on phone.