The Defence Headquarters, Abuja, on Monday said 35 armed herdsmen were shot dead in Gwer, Logo and Guma Local Government Areas of Benue State during an encounter with troops on Saturday.
The military said the armed herdsmen were killed by the air force’s Mi-35 attack helicopter in the clash.
The herdsmen were said to have also shot dead a soldier while two others were injured.
The Director of Information, Brig Gen John Agim, who confirmed the clashes, said the military was on Operation Whirl Stroke in Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba and Zamfara states, when the troops encountered the herdsmen in Benue.
Agim said a soldier was still missing after the Benue incident.
He said, “In the clearance operation across the Gwer West, Logo and the Guma LGAs of Benue, troops made contact with heavily armed herdsmen around the lower Benue area and a militia camp at Chetarer village. The troops engaged the militia and followed the pursuit with Mi-35 helicopter of the air component.
“This led to a large number of them being neutralised. In all, 35 herdsmen were neutralised and a large number of them escaped with gunshot injuries. However, a soldier was killed in action, two sustained slight injuries. They have been treated and discharged. Also, one soldier is still missing in action.
“Troops of the Operation Whirl Stroke operating in Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba and Zamfara states conducted four clearance operations during the weekend. At Umaisha and Toto villages of Nasarawa, troops ambushed the militia and killed one. A suspected herdsman, Adamu Abdullahi, in Rukubi in the Doma LGA of Nasarawa State was arrested.”
The defence spokesman said Abdullahi and other suspects would be handed over to the police for further investigation and prosecution.
“Still in Nasarawa State, we arrested one Musa Habu, 32, who is linked with some militiamen. He has been handed over to the Department of State Services for further necessary action,” Agim added.