There was palpable tension in Riyom Local Government Area of Plateau State yesterday as Fulani herdsmen alleged that some unknown gunmen suspected to be Berom youths attacked their cattle taken out for grazing by some of their boys in Jol and Rim villages, killing 60 of the cattle while 30 of their boys were also seriously wounded.
The head of the Fulani in the local government, Alhaji Mohammad Adamu, who told newsmen that the incident had already been reported to the Special Task Force (STF) in charge of the area, saying that the attack occurred at about 1p.m. on Monday when the boys took the cattle out for grazing.
He said: "From nowhere, the gunmen appeared and started shooting, forcing our boys to take cover. The attackers threw tear-gas at the cows to cause confusion among them and thereafter came out and started shooting at them, killing 60."
He also alleged that efforts by the Fulani men to go to the scene after the incident to rescue the wounded cows were also repelled by the Berom youths, who hid in the nearby bush and fired shots at them, and the security men, who wanted to go close to the cows.
He revealed that the attack became easy for the Beroms because of the false alarm they had earlier raised that the Fulani were planning to attack Shonong village.
In response to the alarm, the security men were moved to Shonong to repel any attack by the Fulani.
"This now gave the Berom easy access to scare away the boys grazing the cattle and killing about 60 of our cows."
When contacted, the spokesman for the STF, Captain Iweha Ikedichi, said he did not have the details of the attack, and that he was on his way to the said villages to confirm it.
"I shall get back to you as soon as I am able to get anything," he said.
However, the leader of the Fulani in Riyom Local Government Areas Alhaji Mohammad Adamu, however said they had appealed to their people to remain calm and not take the laws into their hands but to await the action by the STF which was fully aware of what had happened.
Meanwhile, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) in the local government area has denied the rumours making the rounds that the Fulani had a camp in Rim where insurgents were being trained for possible attack on Berom villages.
In a statement signed by the Chairman and Secretary of MACBAN, Isa Abdullahi and Abdul Karim Umar, the association advised the law enforcement agencies to investigate the veracity of the allegation.
It denied the existence of any Fulani camp at Rim or any other place in Nigeria or outside the country where insurgents or any other group of people are being trained to cause confusion in the state or in Nigeria at large.
Describing the allegation as a grand design by some mischief makers to tarnish the image of the Fulani people in the state and Nigeria at large, he said it was a plot to discourage the federal government in its efforts towards establishing the Grazing Reserve Commission in Nigeria to address the general problems of the Fulani people in Nigeria.
MACBAN urged the security agencies and other relevant security outfits to investigate those behind the allegation and ensure that they are arrested and prosecuted.