At least 37 people are feared killed and many others seriously injured in fresh crisis that broke out in Kajuru Local Government Area in Southern Kaduna.
The latest trouble was said to have started since Sunday when some Fulani youths allegedly went to a village at Ugwan Uka to avenge the killing of their kinsman. Kajuru Local Government is about 50 kilometres from the state capital, Kaduna.
The fresh killings show that the efforts by the government at the state and federal levels to check violence have not been effective.
The umbrella body of Fulani, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria on Saturday alleged that four of its members were killed by youths from the troubled Southern Kaduna.
The group had alleged that youths from Kadara and Gwari communities in Kajuru were responsible for the killings.
The National Secretary of the association, Ibrahim Abdullahi, while addressing a press conference in Kaduna claimed that the incident occurred when some kidnappers raided the communities and took away the villagers.
But yesterday, one of the Kadara youths, who craved anonymity, claimed that the Fulani man that was killed was a known bandit who had been harassing the people of the area and was killed by a mob while he was trying to escape.
He said the matter was explained to the head of the Fulani community in the area who, he claimed, knew the deceased Fulani man to be a bandit, but their youths insisted on attacking to avenge the man’s death.
According to the Kadara youth, “the Chief of Kajuru even called them and spoke with them but we were surprised that in the early hours of Sunday morning, they came and carried out the attack.”
It was learnt that the Fulani youths killed five of the youths they were said to have identified as being responsible for the killing of their kinsman.
The action was said to have provoked the Kadara youths who mobilised themselves on Monday and attacked Fulani settlements, burning their houses and other property while killing not less than 12 persons in the reprisal attack.
Mallam Salisu Mohammed, an eyewitness, said that after the attack, some security agents were deployed in the communities and peace was restored for the period they were around. But, according to him, things got out of hand again when the security agents left the bushes and the Kadara youth launched another attack on the surrounding Fulani settlements, killing not less than 10 persons.
“These are the ones whose bodies have been recovered. As I am talking with you, we don’t know the actual number of casualties as our people are scattered all over, running to save their lives,” he said.
According to Mohammed, the victims were buried in a mass grave, and while at the site of the burial, they received information to prepare for the burial of another nine whose bodies were recovered from the surrounding bushes.
Another eyewitness said when the attack occurred, the youths became restive, but the elders had to calm them down.
“We have been hearing of several attacks, but when I called people in some of the communities, they say the report was not true,” he said.
He, however, said that no less than 10 persons including a seven-month-old baby reportedly died in the attack.
Confirming the incident, the Acting Police Public Relations Officer, Yakubu Sabo, said he was aware of the misunderstanding among some individuals in the community which later led to a clash and some people were said to have taken the laws into their hands.
According to Sabo, security operatives (police personnel and soldiers) have been drafted to the area and have brought the situation under control.
“Not only the police but the joint patrol comprising the police and army are still there and the situation has been brought under control. I spoke with them this afternoon and they confirmed to me they’re still there. There is no way this type of thing will happen and we will just withdraw like that.”
He did not give details on the casualty figures but promised: “I will let you know but for now we don’t know.”