25 February 2013

Nigeria: Boko Haram Vows to Hunt Renegade Members

Seven killed in Kano, Kaduna Death toll rises to 31 in Taraba clash as govt imposes curfew

By John Shiklam and Wole Ayodele

A faction of Boko Haram has vowed to bring into line renegade members, who despite the declaration of ceasefire, have continued with the orgy of violence which the Islamist group embarked on since 2009 in the group's quest to Islamise Nigeria.

It warned at the weekend that members who have continued the killing spree despite the declaration of the ceasefire agreement to immediately stop the offensives or face the consequence of their action. The group, led by Abdulaziz Ibn Adam, said it had realised its goals were not achievable through violence.

But as if the warning was of no effect, seven persons were killed in separate attacks carried out in Kano and Kaduna States at the weekend.

The death toll in Saturday's sectarian clash in Wukari, Taraba State, which was triggered by disagreement during a football training session, rose from five to 31 by Sunday.

Adam, according to a report by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said his group would go after those who continued to engage in violent campaign since they had been warned severally.

He said at a news conference in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, that the leader of the sect, Abubabak Shekau, was behind the ceasefire agreement and hence all members must abide or face sanctions.

"You will recall that we announced a ceasefire last month as a precondition for talks with government. But sadly after a few days of respite, violent began again in the country," Adam added.

"Those currently engaged in this violence are not our people because our people are obedient to their leaders. Since the leadership has asked them to cease fire, they won't continue with violence," he said.

The ceasefire announcement made in January by the Adam-led group cautiously welcomed by the government, was soon denounced by another faction of Boko Haram, which distributed leaflets rejecting dialogue.

Violence has continued, although on a relatively lower scale in Borno and Yobe States, residents say, an indication that the supposed ceasefire may have been a fluke.

In Kaduna State at the weekend, gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen, invaded Aduwan village in Zangon Kataf Local Government Area, killing five people, including a nursing mother and her three-month-old baby.

Several others who sustained varying injuries from gunshots were rushed to an undisclosed hospital.

Eyewitnesses said the incident occurred at about 10 pm on Saturday when the villagers were mourning the death of an elderly man in the community.

"You know as part of our culture, just like in other cultures, when an old man dies at a very ripe age, we celebrate him by dancing. So our people were dancing at the residence of the late man, when at about 10pm, some people came and started shooting at the crowd.

Sunday, youths in the area staged a mass protest against the attack accusing the military and police personnel manning the numerous checkpoints in the area for not doing their work.

The Chairman of Zangon Kataf Local Government Area, Mr. Kris Haruna, who confirmed the attack in a telephone interview, said five people were killed while several others injured were being treated in the hospital.

The state Police Commissioner, Mr. Olufemi Adenaike, however said three people were killed and several others were injured.

The state Governor, Alhaji Mukhtar Yero, condemned the attack, urging the people of the area to remain calm as government has ordered an immediate investigation.

But in Kano State, the Joint Security Task Force (JTF) on Saturday shot dead two suspected gunmen and arrested four others in the Kano metropolis.

An eyewitness said the incident happened around 1pm at a security checkpoint on Hadeja Road in Kano City, during 'a stop and search' operation.

"It was in the process that one of the passengers opened fire on the operatives at the checkpoint and as a result, one soldier was injured. Soon after that the security operatives responded by killing the attacker instantly," the source said.

It was learnt that another passenger in the vehicle brought out a knife and tried to attack the soldiers but he was also shot dead instantly.

JTF spokesman, Capt. Ikedichi Iweha, confirmed the incident and the killing of the two gunmen.

A day after a bloody clash between youths of different faiths in Wukari, Taraba State, the casualty figure rose yesterday as the violence continued.

The death toll in the religious crisis that erupted between Christians and Muslims in the town on Saturday night has risen to 31 as the violence that engulfed the ancient town enters its second day.

In a bid to restore peace to the town, the state Acting Governor, Alhaji Garba Umar, has declared a 24-hour curfew in the town even as a combined team of security personnel have been dispatched to the town to restore normalcy.

About 40 people have been arrested in connection with the crisis.

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