By Achor Abimaje
The Special Task Force (STF) on Jos crisis code-named 'Operation Safe Haven' has revealed that 260 people were killed, while 2,501 herds of cattle were rustled in 160 attacks in the state in the last six months by unknown gunmen.
According to the STF, about 1,312 herds of cattle, 88 arms and 2,734 ammunition were recovered during the period.
The STF made this disclosure during the 6th Plateau Dialogue held at the Cabinet Office, Jos, yesterday.
Major General David Enetie, STF commander, who was represented by Col Ali Bello in the dialogue session, said the task force recorded 42 cases of cow rustling in the state within the period.
He said, "The attacks were fueled by the activities of cow rustlers which are the major security challenges confronting the task force in the state.
"The problem of cattle rustling is concentrated mostly in Mangu, Bokkos, Barkin Ladi, Shendam, Jos South, Riyom, Langtang North and Langtang South local governments.
"Apart from the casualties, the task force has recorded some successes in our efforts to address the problem of cow rustling with the arrest of 15 armed dealers who provided arms that made cattle rustling easier in the state".
"The successes recorded in the fight against cattle rustlers in the state is attributed to the Operation Restore Peace launched by the STF in the state to specifically combat the new found criminality in the state".
Organisers of the dialogue session, Search For Common Ground, an NGO sponsored by the European Union (EU), in collaboration with the Office of the Special Adviser on Peace Building and Conflict Management, revealed that the early warning system established by the NGO indicated that tension associated with cattle rustling has been on the increase since the beginning of 2014.
The NGO, however, said, "With the collaborative efforts of civil society organisations and security agencies, the rate of attacks and killings has significantly reduced.
Country director of Search For Common Ground, Mr Chom Bagu, in his welcome address said, "The peace building and dialogue process is not restricted to government and security agencies alone; all stakeholders are required to join hands to chase conflicts out of Plateau State".