By HENRY UMAHI and DENNIS UGBUDIAN:
Last Sunday, blood flowed once again, in Jos, the Plateau State capital. It was the second time, within two months, that the city witnessed an orgy of violence. The first bloodletting was in January, which claimed many lives. This had led to the declaration of curfew and the deployment of soldiers. Even till today, soldiers are still in place.
In the latest violence, blood-thirsty hounds had attacked Dogon-Nahawa, a village dominated by Christians and located a few kilometers to Jos. The attackers invaded the village in the small hours of that day and left in their trail blood, sorrow and tears.
Invaders and the invasion
It was gathered that the attackers had overran Dogon-Nahawa village a little after midnight, while the villager were asleep. Survivors said that the attackers had first, set their victims’ thatched houses on fire before shooting indiscriminately.
The shooting, it was gathered, was not meant to kill the villagers but to cause them to run out of their homes and therefore, face horrible death. The victims were cut down by their attackers, in cold blood, with machetes. Skulls were cut open and brains spilled. People were disemboweled. Limbs were severed. And the victims included men, women and children.
One of the survivors, Peter Jang, confirmed that the attackers fired guns, as they entered the village.
“The shooting was just meant to bring people from their houses and as they come out they were cut down with machetes”, Jang said.
Survivors also revealed that the attackers were made of Fulani herdsmen. According to them, the attackers spoke Fulani to people they captured. Those who were not able to respond in Fulani were cut to pieces with machetes.
It was gathered that the majority of those who were killed were kids, women and old men, who could not run when they discovered that they were under attack.
One survivor to Reuters narrated painfully: “We saw mainly those who are helpless, like small children and then the older men, who cannot run. These were the ones that were slaughtered.”
Saturday Sun gathered that it was not only Fulani herdsmen who attacked Dogon-Nahawa. Sources revealed that there were also mercenaries among the attackers. The mercenaries were hired from neighbouring Chad and Niger Republic. The mercenaries, it was gathered, had camped at the outskirts of the village, ahead of the attack.
Since January when members of the Hausa Muslim community in Kuru Karama, south of Jos, were killed allegedly by Christian mobs, there had been fears of reprisal attack. In the January violence, close to 300 died, and they were mostly Muslims. Some of the victims of that attack were thrown into sewer pits and wells.
It was suspected that Sunday’s attack was in retaliation, as Dogon-Nahawa Community natives are predominantly Christians. Red Cross spokesman, Robin Waubo, also alluded to this.
Saturday Sun learnt that until the Sunday attack, Muslims had agonized over the January action and boasted to retaliate. The arrowheads of the attack were said to have traveled to Chad and Niger Republic to mobilize those who helped them. With the assurance of support by the Chadian and Nigeriens, the group had started amassing weapons, which were gradually taken across military checkpoints in disguise.
It was gathered that many families in the neighbouring Christian villages, near Jos, who saw the movement of the Muslims, had left to avoid being victims.
Military on the cross
The military is on the cross following the violent attack. Since January, soldiers have been keeping watch over Jos. They are stationed in routes leading into Jos and those leading out. Also, a dusk to dawn curfew has been in place.
With this security measures and then the attack on Sunday, Plateau State government accused soldiers of conniving with the attackers. This is even more so since Governor Jonah Jang said he alerted the army commander in Jos around midnight but no action was taken until about 3.30am, when the attackers had wreaked havoc and left.
He narrated what happened: “Three hours or so later, I was woken by a call that they (armed gangs) have started burning the village and people were being hacked to death. I tried to locate the commanders. I couldn’t get any of them on the telephone.”
With the curfew in Jos, the question has been: How did the attackers pass military checkpoints with weapons, without soldiers detecting and intercepting them?
It was learnt that the attackers did not use the major road. Operating as herdsmen, they were said to have, in the guise of taking cattle to graze, moved weapons to the bush, near their target. The mercenaries were also said to have disguised as herdsmen taking cattle to the fields.
Sources said also that security at the checkpoints is always lax on Sundays, a thing the attackers were said to have capitalized on. Also, it was gathered that on the Sunday the attack was carried out, there was a large movement of herdsmen with cattle.
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