Nasarawa State Government says the explosion that killed over 40 herders in Rukubi village Doma Local Government Area of the state was a drone attack.
Governor Abdullahi Sule confirmed this during a news briefing at the end of an emergency meeting in Lafia the Nasarawa State capital.
Governor Abdullahi Sule who did not give further details about the identity of the drone said the bombardment occured when the herders were taking delivery of their cows that were arrested and detained by Benue State Government for violating Anti Open Grazing law of the state.
He stated that according to preliminary report, over 40 herders were killed in the attack.
While commesurating with the families of the victims of the attack, Governor Abdullahi Sule said a high powered delegation including leadership of Fulani groups would be constituted to take the matter up with the federal government.
Heads of security agencies in the state, traditional rulers as well as National President of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Alhaji Bello Badejo attended the meeting.
Meanwhile, The death toll in the Rukubi bomb explosion has now risen to 56.
A spokesman for the Nasarawa Police Command told Radio Nigeria that the blast occurred on Tuesday night in Rukubi a border area between Nasarawa and Benue States.
A resident of Rukubi, Mallam Haruna Bawa who was at the scene of the bomb explosion said he counted more than 54 lifeless bodies, including those of four of his brothers.
In an interview with Radio Nigeria in Lafia, Malam Bawa, who was also at the hospital to attend to an injured brother of his, said he had rushed to the scene of the explosion after hearing a loud noise accompanied by thick smoke from the area.
“Some of the people who died in the attack were butchers who were invited to slaughter the cows that fell sick while in detention to avoid wastage,” He said.
The spokesperson of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, Tasi’u Suleman, said: “At least 54 people died instantly. Those who were injured were countless.”
Another victim of the suspected bomb explosion, Malam Usman Bawa, who was receiving medical treatment at the Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital, Lafia, said the attack was “unprovoked”.
He recounted that residents of the area had come out in large numbers from their homes in Rukubi community to offload their cows on arrival from Benue State where the animals had been held for days as a result of violation of the state government’s anti open-grazing laws.
According to Mallam Bawa, while some of them were bringing down the cows from the vehicle, others were preventing them from going to the stream to drink water, having not been fed for days.
“If cows stay for days without food and they are made to drink water after they are released, they will die,” he explained.
“Among us that were affected by the explosion were those who came out to lend a helping hand to the owners of the cows that were arrested by Benue State Government,” He said.
Mallam Bawa, who had multiple injuries on different parts of his body, said the explosion shattered his legs but he was thankful to God for saving his life.
Yet another victim of the blast, Mallam Adamu Abdullahi, said he lost three of his friends who had accompanied him to the area to receive the cows while he escaped death with a broken arm and deep cuts in his stomach and other parts of his body.
He said it was not clear to him if it was an airstrike or whether the explosion came from a bomb or other explosive devices that had been planted in the vehicle that conveyed the cows.
The victims called on the federal government to set up an independent investigative panel to unravel the circumstances surrounding the attack.
They said they want the perpetrators of the deadly act to face justice.
Many of the survivors of the bomb explosion were on admission at a private facility while others were taken to Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital in Lafia, the Nasarawa State capital, where two more victims later died.
In a telephone interview with Radio Nigeria, the Nasarawa State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Ramhan Nansel said security personnel have been deployed to the area to forestall reprisals.
DSP Nansel said the police, in collaboration with other security agencies, were engaged in “restoring confidence” in the residents of Rukubi village and Doma Local Government Area.
Our correspondent reported the deaths of two additional persons at the hospitals where many of the injured are still receiving treatment. (RN)