Monday, September 5, 2011

Family of 8 butchered in Jos violence

The circle of violence in Plateau State continued yesterday as another family of eight was wiped out by assailants at a village in Heipang District of Barkin Ladi Local Government Area. Among those killed was a four-month-old baby.

The attackers who were said to have been heavily armed struck at the residence of Mr. Chollom Nangup Gyang at Tatu village around midnight while they were deep asleep, killing him, his wife and six children.

A similar attack on another family in Heipang sometime back also left a man and six members of his family dead.

The attack in Heipang came just as a bomb was discovered at the centre of a market in Riyom and was detonated by the police anti-bomb unit before it exploded.

An account said the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was planted at the market by unknown persons and was discovered by an elderly man who found a container with a clock in it and got curious.

The police were later called in following which it was discovered to be a bomb and was successfully detonated before it could cause any damage.

Chairman of Barkin Ladi Local Government Area, Mr. Emmanuel Loman who visited the residence of the attacked family yesterday pointed accusing fingers at Fulanis from a neighbuoring village.

“We are suspecting the Fulanis in this attack because this is their route and apart from that, the Fulanis that live in nearby Mahanger village are heavily armed and I have been crying out to government to go to the village in search for arms but the government is not acting on my request. You can see that the guns used to attack the residents in this place are sophisticated weapons. Government should do something fast before the next attack on another family; government should go in there and recover all arms stocked there”, he said.

He described the wiping out of another family shortly after a similar attack some weeks back as worrisome, adding, “this kind of attack aimed at an entire family is the second in less than a month in my local government. What is going on is beyond words; it is barbaric and inhuman for someone or group of people to embark on a killing spree of this magnitude”.

The state Commissioner for Information, Mr, Yiljap Abraham who also visited the scene of the attack expressed the regret of the state government over the incident and called on the people to be more vigilant to avoid a recurrence.

He told newsmen that government was sad that violence had continued in spite of efforts to restore peace. No matter the number of military and police personnel, they are not enough to protect everyone. So government is calling on community and religious leaders and politicians to enlighten their people to help themselves.

“Arrangements should be made to protect the people; let people take measures to safeguard lives and property in every community,” he said.

Yiljap, however, tasked the various communities and ethnic groups to adopt dialogue, saying that dialogue still remained the best solution to the lingering crisis.

Capt. Charles Ekeocha, the Spokesman of the military Special Task Force (STF) maintaining security in Plateau, in his reaction to the attacks, said that the STF had no business with the area. He explained that the STF withdrew its men after the communities in the area said they did not want them.

He said: “The security of that area is not the concern of the STF; they have said that we are responsible for the attacks. In fact, officials from the army headquarters came and investigated the claims of the communities and we are still awaiting the outcome of their findings.

“They have always accused our men of the attacks, so I do not know who could have attacked them now that our men have been withdrawn.”

Reminded that the STF was in charge of security in the entire Plateau, Ekeocha agreed, but quickly added that soldiers were not in charge of that specific area since they had been accused of masterminding the attacks over time.

“There was even a time they claimed to have picked military ID cards at the scene of such attacks. So we are out of their area. I suggest you contact the police or the Plateau-owned security outfit, Operation Rainbow,” he said.

Meanwhile, church services held peacefully but amidst heavy security in most churches in the state capital following reports of a planned attack on churches which made many adherents to shun service.

Text messages of a plan to make the day a bloody Sunday and alleged importation of mercenaries to carry out the attack were sent out to people until late Saturday with an advice to spread the warning, a situation which instilled fear in many residents.

However, a nine-member security committee has been set up by the Jamaatu Nasir Islam and the Council of Ulama to educate residents of Jos metropolis on the importance of peaceful co-existence.

Chairman of the committee, Abdulmalik Aminu told journalists that it has swung into action and has visited various security agencies to brief them of its mission.

He said the committee was also educating the youths against attacking security personnel in the course of their duty as happened recently and to see the attainment of peace as a collective responsibility.


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