17 January 2010

Nigeria: 10 Feared Dead in Fresh Jos Crisis - Govt Imposes Dusk to Dawn Curfew

JOS CAME under a dusk to dawn curfew on Sunday, imposed by the Plateau State Government, after the city returned to the boil when Muslim youths attacked Christians on their way to Saint Luke's Church in the Nasarawa Gwom neigbourhood.

Not fewer than 10 persons were feared dead.

Police Commissioner, Greg Ayangting, informed journalists that it was too early to say whether places of worship were destroyed, but added that Muslim youths who started the trouble by throwing stones at Christians have been identified.

He confirmed the arrest of 35 suspects, five in military uniform who killed and maimed.

A panel is still in the middle of a probe of the violence which occurred in Jos on November 28, 2008 and resulted in the death of several people.

There are two versions of the story on the latest outbreak.

One said when a man whose home was destroyed in 2008 was about to rebuild it, some youths attacked him claiming that he did not consult them before embarking on the project.

The second version recounted that the conflict began from a football pitch where a match took place among the youths of Dutse Ukwu.

The match ended in controversy as fans and players of both teams engaged in violent conflict which led to tension in the area.

The state Christian Elders Consultative Forum (CECF) condemned the attack, describing it as Moslem terrorism on churches on the Plateau.

A statement signed by CECF National Co-ordinator, Andersen Bok, and Secretary General, Musa Pam, said the attack, "coming after the normal Christian services in churches was premeditated, wicked, deliberate and terrifying.

"Our fellow brothers and sisters were just coming out of churches in the Nasarawa area of Jos when some Islamic youths pounced on them with machetes and other dangerous weapons.

"Shortly after the attack, we were made to believe that some Islamic fundamentalists were engaging themselves in some fracas after some disagreement which spilled into churches leading to Christian casualties.

"Why must it be churches and Christians who will suffer from an all-Muslim affair? In the last Jos crisis, the same Christians became casualties after some Muslims protested an election result that was intended to elect local government Chairmen.

"Why will Islamic fundamentalists engage themselves on a Sunday morning shortly after the service if the 'terror' act was not premeditated?

"While thanking the Plateau State Government for its prompt reaction, which quickly restored peace to the city, we call on our Muslim brothers and sisters to see this as the last of such provocation on the Christians in the state. Enough is enough."

Police Public Relations Officer, Mohammed Yerima, confirmed in a statement that there was a breach of peace but the police have brought the situation under control.

He assured residents to go about their normal business and warned that the police would deal with anyone who takes the law into his hand.

Parts of the metropolis affected are Nasarawa Gwom, Bauchi Road, Dutse Ukwu, Congo Russia, Sarkin Mangun, Sabon Layi, Alikazaure, and Massalacin Jumaa.

Even some people not affected by the violence have taken shelter at state police headquarters in fear.

Plateau has been awash with talk of impending mayhem since the alarm was raised last December by The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN).

Information Commissioner , Gregory Yenlong, on Sunday advised residents to "strictly adhere to (the curfew) as all efforts are being intensified to ensure the safety of lives and properties."

He urged residents to co-operate with the security agencies, and to remain calm as the government is doing everything possible to "nib in the bud, the prevailing security situation."

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