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Nearly 500 Nigerians killed in past week

By Olatunji Saliu

ABUJA, March 17 (Xinhua) — The death toll almost climbed to 500 in the past week across Nigeria either from attacks or in accidents reported in the West African country.

According to Xinhua statistics, at least five people were reportedly killed last Monday in an attack by gunmen in Nigeria’s northeastern state of Taraba. The attackers were believed to be herdsmen who migrated from the neighboring north central state of Benue, due to communal crisis in that province.

Ishaka Adamu, leader of Ibi local government area of Taraba State, said residents had begun to flee their abodes due to the violence that broke out.

The divisional police chief in the locality, Izikiel Imoh, also confirmed the attack, saying the situation was being brought under control by anti-crime agents.

The attackers were apparently avenging a confrontation claiming 13 lives. Battles linger on between the herdsmen and local people of Benue State, said resident Barnabas Iyoribhe, an eyewitness.

Many houses were burnt during the onslaught, reported Iyoribhe, who also counted more than 10 injured victims.

More deaths were known late Tuesday in southwest Lagos State, Nigeria’s foremost commercial hub, where a boat capsized at a river, leaving 13 people dead. The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), which confirmed the incident to Xinhua, said five passengers of the boat were rescued and six other people were missing.

Most of the passengers were local residents, according to a spokesperson of the emergency agency Ibrahim Farinloye.

The killing of at least 117 residents of four villages across the northwestern state of Katsina, drew more tears from fellow countrymen last Wednesday. Some 37 people were reportedly injured in the attack by gunmen, while 708 residents where displaced due to razing of their houses by the attackers.

Deputy governor of Katsina State Abdullahi Garba, who gave the figures at the end of his sympathy visit to the affected communities, said the victims included women and children.

Leading a government delegation to the affected areas, Garba said, from the interim report obtained, 22 persons were killed at Sabonlayin Galadima Village and 29 were also killed at Maigora Village of the northern state.

Others killed by the gunmen, also suspected to be herdsmen, included 51 residents of Marabar Kindo Village. Eight more people were killed at Yardoka Village, while seven people lost their lives at Kurar Mota Village.

The official said government would take adequate measures to ensure the protection of lives and property, through joint efforts with neighboring Kaduna and Zamfara states.

At least 212 people lost their lives in a gunfire between rebels and military operatives last Friday. Multiple explosions also rented the air in the six-hour long attack in Maiduguri, capital of the northeastern state of Borno.

Sources said at least five soldiers, among them a woman, were killed in the gun fighting.

Boko Haram was suspected behind the attack. Sources said the sect, which has proved to be a major security threat in the West African country since 2009, was trying to free some of its fighters in military detention.

Boko Haram fighters dressed in military uniforms had stormed the area in vehicles painted in military colors as they attacked a military cantonment and freed some of their members, said Mallam Abdullahi Dere, leader of a local security group comprising of mainly civilians.

The civilians, who first repelled the attack before the arrival of security agents, had arrested many of the Boko Haram fighters during the onslaught and handed them over to the military. Those who tried to fight back were lynched, according to one of the group members identified as Isa Maikati.

Borno State, where the sect’s headquarters is located, is currently under an emergency rule with Adamawa and Yobe, its two sister northeastern states which have also suffered deadly attacks by the Boko Haram sect.

Nine people were killed and seven others sustained injuries when two buses collided in northwest Nigeria’s Jigawa State, also on Friday. The accident took place in Ganji-gyedi village, according to Muhammad Gidado, state commandant for Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSDC).

Gidado said six of the passengers were burnt beyond recognition, adding three others died later at the General Hospital in Ringim area of the state.

Seven other people, in critical condition, were referred to Rashidi Shekoni Specialist Hospital in Dutse, the state capital.

A preliminary investigation showed that the accident was caused by over-speeding, added Gidado.

The poor conditions of roads, over-speeding, over-loading and reckless driving are blamed for frequent traffic accidents in the West African country.

Also, more than a score of job seekers were confirmed dead in several stampede incidents that occurred during the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) recruitment exercises in Africa’s most populous country over the weekend.

Tayo Haastrup, spokesperson for the National Hospital in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, told reporters Saturday that seven people were brought in dead from a venue of the exercise, although other sources said three other died while receiving treatment.

Haastrup said the hospital was stabilizing those brought in unconscious from the stampede, while other casualties had been taken to other hospitals, including Asokoro General Hospital in Nigeria’s capital city.

In the oil-rich state of Rivers, four people were reportedly killed during another stampede that marred the recruitment process.

A source at the state-owned Braithwaite Memorial Hospital in Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers, said 12 people were brought to the hospital after the stampede.

More applicants, in other states where the recruitment exercise was conducted, also gave up the ghost while going through a rigorous process of employment.

In another development, police authorities in Nigeria on Sunday ordered a manhunt for suspected killers of local people in villages across the northwestern state of Kaduna, promising to bring the culprits to book.

About 100 people were reported killed late Friday and early Saturday during an attack that spread across three villages in the southern part of the state. It was suspected to be a perpetration of local herdsmen who brandished sophisticated weapons and unleashed terror on the villagers.

According to Kaduna State police spokesperson Aminu Lawan, security agents took charge of the situation and more policemen were quickly deployed to the affected areas.

Lawan said the police officers were tasked to ensure law and order in the areas.

Residents said the attackers, numbering 40 or more, killed more than 50 people in one of the villages. Many houses were also burnt, as the attackers went on rampage.

People who attempted to escape were gunned down by the attackers, according to resident Ali Waziri, one of the survivors of the attack. “I was just lucky to have escaped,” he told a Xinhua reporter in Kaduna, the state capital.

A full scale investigation into the incident was swiftly ordered by Governor Mukhtar Yero of the northwest state. The governor condemned the attack in strong terms and described it as wicked and ungodly.

Besides, an emergency security council meeting had been summoned, with a view of ascertaining the cause of the situation.

Nigeria, with approximately 170 million population, shares land borders with Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east and Niger in the north.

The northern part of the country is plagued by violence, including attacks by the Boko Haram sect. The southern part of the country is said to be a hub of criminal activities which include oil theft or bunkering, kidnap and armed robbery attacks. Communal clashes often paralyze commercial activities in the central state of Plateau, which shares borders with many northern states, and pockets of violence in the north central state of Benue are mostly attributed to herdsmen.


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