The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) on Monday dismissed some media reports that troops on a vengeance mission killed hundreds of innocent civilians in Wase Local Government Area, Plateau State.
A statement posted on the DHQ website said the attention of the military had been drawn to reports in a section of traditional and social media on the purported killing of a number of civilians in a village in Plateau State by the military over the weekend.
The statement, which was unsigned, noted that a version of the story claimed that soldiers who were on a vengeance mission killed over a hundred civilians while other versions claim that the soldiers were on genocidal mission.
It added that those reports were totally false and misrepresentation of facts.
“The truth of the matter is that between 2 and 3 May, 2015, a combined team of soldiers of the Special Task Force (STF) carried out a raid operation to dislodge suspected militia groups harbouring in villages in the borders of Plateau and Taraba states”, it said.
The statement continued: “During the operation which was carried out simultaneously in Kadarko, Kunmi and Wadatan villages, all in Wase LGA of Plateau State, the militia group engaged the troops in a shootout”.
In the ensuing exchange of gunfire, 32 of the suspected militants lost their lives while the soldiers sustained various degrees of injuries, the statement explained.
It further said “10 other militants were arrested with various calibres of weapons and are currently in the custody of the military”.
The DHQ noted that the fact that the group was growing in strength and ambition and expanding in scope and sphere of criminal activities meant that they must be checked.
“That they were also audacious enough to engage the troops means that they were already a formidable criminal gang that must be stopped”, it said.
The DHQ stated that the clarification has become necessary in the face of mindless fabrications by those trying to capitalize on the unfortunate incident to continue their well-rehearsed smear campaign against the military.
“It must be stated very clearly that never again shall the Nigerian military allow any militant groups to rise again to constitute themselves into grave danger to innocent citizens of the country”, the statement concluded.