By Sunday Ogli, Makurdi
NO fewer than 13 suspected members of a cult group were over the weekend reportedly hacked to death in a major fracas with youths of Lessel community in Ushongo local government area of Benue state.
Daybreak gathered that the bloody clash which lasted over two hours also left several persons with serious injuries.
An eyewitness said the crisis started when members of the cult group who were in the town for a convention attacked and killed a commercial motorbike operator whose motorbike they had attempted to snatch.
“The group had come to Lessel town in their numbers Saturday night for what we gathered was their annual convention in the town.
“They ran into the ‘Okada man’ who they engaged to convey some of them to Joy Guest House in Lessel, venue of the meeting where some of them also put up.
“On completing the assignment of conveying them to their destination, the cult members demanded the key of the motorbike but the rider refused to surrender his bike to them.
“They descended on him and killed him instantly. But luckily the news of the murder of the innocent commercial motorbike operator filtered into town and the youths in Lessel mobilized and stormed Joy Guest House with dangerous weapons.
“A bloody fight ensued, some of the cult members were hacked to death while others who were captured alive led the youths to where other members of the group were hiding. They were all rounded up by the youths but not after 13 of them, aside the Okada rider had been killed.
“It took the intervention of the Police who stormed the area to stop the killing of more of the group members, most of whom had been beaten to a pulp by the angry youths.
“The police were able to rescue other members of the cult group from the angry mob after firing warning shots in the air and dispersing the mob with tear-gas canisters.
“As we speak there is blood everywhere in Lessel town and there is palpable tension in the town while some people are also moving out of their homes for fear of reprisal attack by members of the cult group,” the eyewitness said.
Reacting, Benue State Police Commissioner, Mr. Ene Okoh said “when we got the information my men moved in quickly and arrested 13 persons who were involved in the fracas but I can confirm that nine persons were killed in the clash.
The Commissioners who disclosed that the command had reinforced security in the town attributed the bloody clash to a rival cult fight.