Plateau: 40 Persons Killed In Fresh Attacks As Residents Flee Wase
SAN FRANCISCO, April 09, (THEWILL) - Not less than 40 persons have been killed so far in renewed attacks which started Monday night in Zango and Wase in Wase Local Government Area of Plateau State as over 200 residents, including women and children, Tuesday, fled the town following the escalation of the violent communal clash between the Hausa/Fulani and the Tarok.
Trouble started when a group of armed youths alleged to be of Tarok ethnic stock attempted to ambush Wase town on Monday afternoon but were repelled by the community's youths and vigilante groups.
According to a youth leader from Wase, Shafi'i Sambo, "Shortly after we completed Zuhur prayers, we heard gunshots being fired into our community and everybody started running, but we were able to chase the militants across Zango and burnt their camps around the area."
Sambo said "Five of our youths are dead and we brought back their corpses while I saw about 20 corpses that do not belong to us and must be the Tarok's. Presently about seven of our men have been rushed to the Wase General Hospital for treatment."
According to a source, there have been pockets of killings in the area after the Monday crisis leading to more deaths as more corpses were discovered on Tuesday morning. The source said residents had begun to relocate out of Wase to safety in Langtang North, Dengi and Kanam Local Government Areas.
Sambo also confirmed the relocation, saying "over 200 women and children have fled the community so far.” According to him, “The women started leaving on Friday after the first attack because some men feared the safety of their wives and children so they made arrangements for them to leave the town." He however said community leaders in the area were making frantic efforts to douse the tension.
Narrating his experience, a member of a Community Development Association from Yelwan Shendam, Abdullahi Danbaba, said he narrowly escaped the attack while on his way to Yelwa.
And speaking with journalists on phone, a Tarok traditional ruler, Ponzhi Kumbwang of Wase Local Government Area, Jessey Pyenkwam, said he understood that much of Zango settlements had been razed. "It's sad that this crisis has taken this turn. It is even more sad that it is being seen as a Tarok-Fulani confrontation because both communities need each other," he said.
Confirming the incident, spokesman of the Special Task Force (STF), Salisu Mustapha, said there had been attacks around Wase. He however declined knowledge of any casualty. "There were disturbances on the outskirts of Wase but I have no report of casualty, " he said, adding that the crisis has been brought under control.
Lamenting the extent of damage while speaking with newsmen in Jos on Tuesday, the Senator representing Plateau South Senatorial Zone in the National Assembly, Victor Lar, urged traditional and community leaders in the area to take drastic steps to end the crisis. Appealing to members of his communities to sheathe their swords and embrace dialogue, he said crisis will only hamper the development of the zone.
"I appeal to spirited individuals to assist us, because when there is crisis the most badly affected victims are women and children; houses have been burnt with food stuff also destroyed. They need relief materials, and I want to assured that government is doing everything possible to ensure that lasting peace is restored.
“The security agencies should be up and doing and the traditional rulers should also help government. I am told that mercenaries, who are imported from outside Nigeria are involved in this crisis; they should report any suspicious movement of large strangers in to the communities so that government can take proactive measures,” he said.