From Gyang Bere, Jos and Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
No fewer than 36 persons were killed yesterday morning, when suspected bandits attacked Yelwan Zangam community in Jos North Local Government Area of Plateau State.
The attackers defied the curfew imposed by Governor Simon Lalong and unleashed terror on women, children and aged persons. Most of the victims died of gunshots injuries while those who were butchered were burnt.
The Operation Safe Haven (OPSH) confirmed the incident. Military Information Officer, Major Ishaku Takwa, in a statement, said: “The attackers came in the night and started house to house shooting of unsuspecting members of the community. The gunmen also destroyed houses and the bridge linking the town to the community making access to the area difficult for security agencies.
“Troops of Operation SAFE HAVEN mobilised to save the community were slowed down by the destruction of the bridge by the marauders. Troops eventually got to the scene of the attack by navigating through other villages and met some houses already burnt and casualties recorded. Troops are in pursuit in the direction the killers fled.”
David Zaion, member of the community, said 36 bodies have been recovered while more than 20 houses were burnt. He said most of the villagers were fleeing for fear of further attack.
“The bandits invaded the community in a large number in the early hours of Wednesday and killed women, children and the aged persons.
“We have recovered up to 36 corpses and several others are still missing. You can see for yourself how people were butchered and roasted in their sleep.
“We are hopeless at the moment, we have lost confidence in the government and security agencies. They are not doing their job the way it is supposed to be.”
Angry youths from the affected community conveyed bodies to the state House of Assembly to show their displeasure over the inability of legislators to come up with laws that would protect the citizens. The youths, who dumped the bodies at the Assembly complex, lamented that no government official had come to their aid since the attack occurred.
The youths later proceeded with the bodies in a vehicle to the new Government House, Rayfield, to expressed their bitterness to Governor Simon Lalong over his in ability to protect him.
They were received by the Deputy Governor, Prof. Sonni Tyoden, who pleaded for calm and assured that government would take drastic action to avert a repeat.
Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Plateau State, Rev. Fr. Polycarp Lubo, described the killings as barbaric and urged Christians in the state to defend themselves.
“I totally condemn this attack, this is inhumanity to man and it is unacceptable. I call on the Federal Government to mobilise more security to Plateau State. The security agents have been doing their best but they are not doing enough. You can see we have about 16 corpses here and we were told that several others were roasted and nobody is saying anything.
“This killing was as a result of the utterances of some Islamic scholars who made nasty statements when some persons were killed a week ago. They said they were going to retaliate and this is what we are seeing. I have told the General Officer Commanding 3 Division and the Commander of the Operation Safe Haven to bring those Islamic scholars to book. I want to say nobody has right over anybody’s life.”
He described the recent killing as worse compare to the last killings that claimed the lives of 23 commuters who were said to be Muslim.
Speaker of the House of Assembly, Ayuba Abok, who addressed the angry youths, described the killings as unfortunate and unacceptable.
“I am not the governors but I am going to follow this matter to the end to ensure justice for the victims.”
Meranwhile, the state government has reinstated the 24-hour curfew earlier relaxed in Jos North Local Government Area following the growing tensions arising from the attack.
“The proactive decision became necessary following eminent threat to lives and properties within the local government area and the need to forestall breakdown of law and order. It will also enable security agencies deploy appropriately to maintain security as the search for the attackers of the villagers continues.”
•Why Gombe didn’t experience reprisal –Gov. Yahaya
Governor of Gombe state, Inuwa Yahaya has condemned the incidence that followed the recent happenings in Jos, where some travelers were killed, urging people to remain calm and desist from making reprisals.
He said his people in Gombe awere united in the determination to ward off religious and ethnic differences to sustain the existing relative peace amidst insecurity in the North East region especially in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.
He said this at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, after he met with the Chief of Staff to the President.
“We thank God for helping us as far as the issue of security is concerned. We are in the midst of the North-East and we are aware of the challenges in the frontline states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa are facing so we’ve tried as much as possible in order to live in peace and harmony.
“This is despite our differences; religious difference, social difference and other social differences that normally cause friction among the people and we have gotten the understanding of our people and with the support of the security agencies, we’ve been able to relate well and manage security in Gombe State. We are happy and by the grace of God we shall try to sustain that going forward.”
On what his administration did to forestall reprisals, he said. “All stakeholders, the traditional institutions, schools and agencies that have to manage a number of people were called for a meeting at the Government House where we briefed and advised them not to make reprisal attacks.
“Besides that, we’ve been relating with the religious authorities so that we don’t have reprisal atatcks either from the Christian or Muslim sides. Mind you, a lot of families in Gombe are both Muslims and Christians and that relationship transcends current issues that are causing tension and I think we have been able to manage the matter and people are cooperating and we will continue to do that. We have security management committees in place, comprising traditional rulers, from the ward, to districts, emirates and chiefdoms, up to the State level. Therefore, we share information and manage whatever decision we take and whenever there is an issue, we nip it in the bud without allowing it to get to an alarming state or level,” he explained.
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