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Bloody Easter Sunday in Taraba State Sunday as no fewer than 15 persons died when unknown gunmen attacked Gidin-Doruwa village in Wukari Local Government Area. Twenty residents were injured.
Residents said over 52 houses were torched, including the family house of Daily Independent’s reporter Janet Audu, in Jalingo during the attack.
The attack came barely 24 hours after Acting Governor Garba Umar visited Wukari to plead for peace.
Eye-witnesses said the gunmen opened fire on the town at about 1:30a.m on Sunday when Christians were still celebrating the Night of Light to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
When the residents, confused and scared, began to run, their attackers set their homes ablaze. Churches were almost burnt.
A source said when the CRCN Church caught fire, the youth in the neighborhood started destroying some mosques.
Fleeing residents said the attackers came from “all corners” and cordoned the town before they started shooting without provocation. They sustained the gun fire till yesterday evening.
The arrival of riot policemen and soldiers did not deter the assailants who came in large number, carrying sophisticated weapons.
One resident said: “The situation here is so bad that some of the security personnel may have decided to retreat.
Police spokesman Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Joseph Kwaji, said the arrival of riot policemen from the state command could not end the shootings, and the command got reinforcement from Mopol 34 Squadron, Gombe and 14 Squadron, Adamawa State.
Kwaji told The Nation that he was still expecting reports from the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) on the casualty figures.
“I am trying to get detailed information from the DPO. We are aware that a village in Wukari has been attacked, but I can’t precisely tell the media the number of casualties, the injured and houses burnt now.
“Today’s (yesterday’s) attack and killings were carried out by unknown gunmen,” he said.
The Divisional Secretary of the Red Cross Society of Nigeria, Lucky Navokhi, was also not certain about the casualty figure and other fatalities.
“Hostilities are still on so we don’t have accurate information to make public now,” he said.
Umar has condemned the killings as “unfortunate, barbaric and unacceptable”.
Speaking through his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Aaron Atimas, the acting governor promised that “government would do everything possible to protect lives and property of the citizenry.
“The perpetrators of the crisis must be brought to book. Government cannot fold her arms and watch her citizens die in the hands of heartless people,” Umar said and appealed to the people to be calm.
Commissioner for Information Atte Sale Kundu said he felt sad that in spite of the acting governor’s appeal to the people to embrace peace, the crisis was still far from over.
“We don’t know where the problem is coming from,” he said.
For several weeks, Southern Taraba has been a theatre of war. The violence started from Ibi, Gassol and Takum local government areas and now concentrated in Wukari. Police said last Tuesday, 24 persons were feared killed, 34 injured while 99 houses were torched during hostilities in Wukari.
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