According to reports, the Benue State Police Command said its operatives on Thursday engaged in a gun duel with members of a gang that killed five residents of the state in an attack on Tuesday.
An 85-year-old woman was also shot dead during the attack in Tor Donga in Katsina-Ala Local Government Area of Benue State.
Three of the victims of the Tuesday attack were shot dead when the gang stormed a bar around 9pm on motorcycles while the two other victims including the elderly woman were killed in their homes.
Spokesperson for the command, Mr. Moses Yamu, said investigation so far had not revealed whether the victims were targets or random victims of a ploy to create mayhem in the state by a notorious leader of the gang, Terwase Akwaza, AKA Ghana.
Yamu, an assistant superintendent of police, said the police suspected the attack was a response to an earlier raid by the police which yielded a haul of weapons used by the gang.
He said, “There has been a clampdown on criminals in recent times. This is why Akwaza was declared wanted because his gang had been terrorising the Katsina-Ala area. On Tuesday, October 18, based on information we got, our men stormed his hideout.
“In the raid, our men recovered a power bike used by the gang leader, 164 explosives, two empty rocket casings, two AK47 magazines, two sacks of Indian hemp, 10 mobile phones, one Dane gun, five live cartridges and 20 5.62mm special ammunition.”
Yamu said the gang members carried out the bar attack in the evening of the police raid.
“We got information about the attack and our men set out in search of them on Wednesday night to Thursday. We cordoned off the area and it was while they were trying to escape that our men engaged them in a gun duel. They returned fire and two of them got injured but before we could get them to the hospital, they died. We recovered two military type rifles with the magazines and rounds of ammunition,” Yamu said.