Governor Umaru Al-Makura of the central Nigerian state of Nasarawa, on Friday confirmed that the death toll from the 7 May attack on policemen by a militia had risen to 43. Al-Makura gave the revised death toll when he received a delegation from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), who came to help in the search and rescue effort for victims.

Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Abayomi Akeremale, however confirmed that 28 policemen have been found alive, Akeremale said the 28 policemen were held hostage, but released today.

He said 17 corpses of the slain officers were yet to be recovered, explaining that a total of 93 police men were deployed for the operation out of which 43 were suspected to have been killed.

Akeremale disclosed the arrest of a member of the militia group.

The governor said the ambush on policemen was an act of sabotage by the group, which might have infiltrated the ranks of security operatives in the state.

Al-Makura said prior to the operation, the government made efforts to invite the leader of the group, “but he refused to honour the invitation to explain some of the activities of the sect.”

He said the security agencies had been on the trail of the leader for months and had to take drastic action in order to check the excesses of the group.

“If we leave the group to continue infringing on people’s rights by forcing them to take concoction in order to initiate them into their fold, it would degenerate into a religious crisis.

“That is the justification for the action we took, unfortunately, we were betrayed by saboteurs,” the governor said.

He said the killing was unacceptable and that the government would do all within its power to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Air Commodore Charles Otegbade, Director of Search and Rescue, NEMA, said the team was in the state to assess the situation and report back for proper intervention as well as to provide immediate relief to families of the victims.

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