No fewer than 20 persons were killed by gunmen in a night attack on Ancha village in Bassa Local Government Area, Plateau State on Thursday.
The victims included a four-month-old baby and her mother. Scores of people were also severely injured.
The deceased baby was said to be strapped to her mother’s back when she (mother) was hacked down with machetes as she ran to escape with her baby.
There were eight women and five other children among the victims while the remaining six were men.
Security agencies, who arrived the scene of the attack rather late, have since taken over the village and have launched a manhunt for the attackers.
However, no arrest had been made at the time of filing this report.
The Plateau State Government has also challenged the police to go after the gunmen and prevent them from escaping justice.
With the heavy presence of security agencies in the village, calm has been restored.
But the village was a ghost of itself as everyone worn a mournful look when our correspondent visited.
Confirming the attack, the Plateau State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Peter Ogunyanwo, said: “We went to the village as soon as we got wind of the attack to see things ourselves. We discovered that people were killed during their sleep by suspected Fulani men. There were 19 people killed in the attack.
“This attack was said to have been a reprisal because a Fulani boy was reported missing after he was sent out to graze the cattle. The Fulani petitioned this police command that the boy who was missing for three days was found dead without his head on his body.
“People alleged a ritual attack, but we are yet to ascertain that allegation. But what followed was this attack by suspected Fulani men. We are yet to also ascertain who carried out the attack, we have commenced investigation and that will reveal the true situation soon.
“As police, we have always cautioned residents not to take the law into their hands. This Fulani boy that was found dead without his head was alleged to have committed mischief. He was not reported to law enforcement agents, some people took laws into their hands and killed him. That was what must have led to this very attack.
“We followed the Fulani petition and arrested five suspects over the death of the Fulani boy. They have been in our custody.
“So we are still appealing to citizens not to ever take the law into their hands, because information reaching us shows that this very attack was a reprisal over the death of the Fulani boy killed earlier.”