22 February 2013

Nigeria: Gunmen in Military Uniform Kill 10 Mourners in Plateau

No fewer than 10 people, believed to be members of a family, were Thursday night killed by gunmen in Kogom Village of Vwang District, Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State, residents have said.

The Police Public Relation Officer of the Plateau State Police Command, John Onuigbo, confirmed the killings but said the police could not ascertain the casualty figure.

He said the police are investigating the attack, although no arrest has been made so far.

A survivor of the incident, Habila Musa, said that the attackers were dressed in military uniforms, a claim that has been raised in previous killings.

"The attackers were putting on army uniforms, some were with military helmet," he said.

Mr. Habila told PREMIUM TIMES that residents of the area made repeated phone calls to the recently introduced emergency mobile phone numbers released by the Special Task Force, STF, in Plateau. He said the operation lasted for about an hour, but no one came to their aide.

"No one came to rescue us," he said.

Members of the victims' families also condemned the killings saying most of the victims were mourners who came to condole with a family who lost their grandmother some days back.

They said most of the victims died from gunshot wounds sustained during the attack.

"They invaded our area at about 9:00 p.m. last night, heavily armed and opened fire on the mourners," one of the wailing family member said.

Reacting on the killings, the Special Adviser to Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau on Media and Publicity, Ayuba Pam, who hails from the area, described the incident as "barbaric."

He stressed that the government will not rest in the search for lasting peace in the state, until attacks on citizens are brought to a halt.

"At about 8 p.m., I received a called from the state security outfit informing that there was an attacked in a Kogom Village that four people were killed.

"Later another figure came in that 10 people were killed including children, and that was what happened," he said.

On his part, the head of Vwang District, Choji Balack, while sympathizing with families of the deceased condemned the attack.

He blamed the attack on men of the STF in the state and demanded their withdrawal from Plateau. Mr. Balack claimed that the Fulani could not "carry out such shooting."

Plateau has witnessed the killing of hundreds of people including a serving senator in what is a largely inter-ethnic clash, mainly between the Birom and the Fulani.

The STF is an inter-agency force composed of soldiers, police officers, and State Security Service officials; it was set up by the Federal Government to maintain peace in Plateau but as been accused of also contributing to the violence and killings.

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