Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Jos boils again

Jos, the Plateau State capital which had enjoyed relative peace for several weeks erupted in another orgy of violence yesterday, leaving at least 20 dead and over 50 others injured. This happened just as the rampaging Islamic sect, Boko Haram struck again in Maiduguri, Borno State capital killing three people, including a local government chairman.

In the Jos violence, over 50 vehicles and 100 motorcycles were burnt with some of the occupants trapped inside as their vehicles were torched.

Top security chiefs in the state had last weekend met with religious and community leaders to fashion out strategies for a peaceful Sallah celebration in the state.

Eye witnesses gave different versions of what led to the fresh violence. A version said members of the ‘Izala’ Islamic Group who celebrated the end of the Ramadan yesterday were attacked by youths along Rukuba Road, a Christian dominated area while going for prayers at an abandoned mosque located in the area. The mosque was abandoned in the wake of the previous crisis.

However, another version said the Muslim youths going for the prayers, contrary to the directive of the police that they must not carry dangerous weapons to the praying grounds during the Sallah, brandished daggers, knives and other dangerous weapons which they waved dangerously at residents of the area as they drove past.

This was said to have infuriated the residents who were said to have mobilized in preparation for a showdown with the Muslims after the prayers, but were dispersed by members of the Special Task Force (STF) who allegedly shot and killed some of them.

The youths were said to have gone berserk when they were allegedly shot at from inside the mosque and in retaliation they stormed the mosque where they torched parked vehicles and motorcycles. They also allegedly attacked and killed some people inside the mosque.

Unconfirmed reports said some of the rampaging youths were killed when soldiers opened fire to curtail the violence while several were injured and rushed to hospital.

A combined team of the army and the police had to escort scores of Muslims out of the area to safety as angry youths had stationed themselves for a showdown.

Similar killings were reported in other parts like Farin Gada area where our correspondent saw about seven corpses allegedly killed by angry youths being removed by members of the STF.

The tension generated by the violence saw people hurriedly locking up their businesses and running for their lives in most parts of the city.

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