Thursday, 27 June 2024 04:49

540 killed in two months in Benue, reports Amnesty International

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Amnesty International reported on Wednesday that at least 540 people were killed by armed invaders in rural communities of four local government areas in Benue State within the first two months of this year. The revelation was made by Barbara Magaji, the programme manager of Amnesty International, during a photo exhibition and press conference on the conflicts in Benue, held in Makurdi, the state capital.

Magaji stated that the killings occurred between January and February 18, 2024, in the local government areas of Apa, Otukpo, Agatu, and Guma. “As a result of the attacks, a total of 12,369 individuals from 2,105 households were displaced from their homes, forcing them to seek refuge in neighbouring communities. At least 540 people were killed and 149 injured due to the attacks,” she reported.

The programme manager also revealed that 55 schools were either destroyed by armed attackers or closed due to insecurity, leaving hundreds of children out of school. Additionally, periodic markets in rural communities have been attacked, destroyed, or closed following conflicts and insecurity.

Magaji explained that her presentation was based on Amnesty International’s research on frequent attacks in Benue State, highlighting that 18 out of 23 local government areas in the state have been affected by continuous attacks by armed herders. “Between January 2023 and February 2024, over 50 rural communities in Benue State recorded 135 attacks, leading to the deaths of 2,600 people, many of whom are women and children. This has left hundreds displaced, wounded, raped, and others kidnapped,” she added.

These attacks are significantly affecting food security and livelihoods, as the affected communities are predominantly farmers who are now unable to carry out their activities due to displacement. Amnesty International has called on Nigerian authorities to protect lives and ensure that the attacks in Benue State end. They also urged for impartial investigations into the incidents to seek justice for the victims, survivors, and their families.

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