Muslim Mob Invades Christian Village in Western Nigeria

Friday, March 14, 2003

More Than 100 Dead in Retaliation Attack

by Obed Minchakpu

Yola, Nigeria, March 14 (Compass) -- More than 100 persons died when a Muslim mob attacked a Christian community in western Nigeria’s Adamawa state apparently in retaliation for the deaths of 16 Muslims three months ago.

The February 28 attack on the Christian community of Yugur in Dumne village in the Song local government area is the latest clash in the “age-long” dispute between Muslims and Christians in the region.

Mr. Emmanuel Ijewere, president of the Nigerian Red Cross Society, told Compass the death toll now stands at 110, with 500 injured; 50 are in critical condition. He added that 130 houses and some churches were razed, and 21,000 persons have been displaced. An unknown number of Christians are still missing.

Shortly after the attack began, Nigerian army and police personnel were sent to regain control over the area, but they were also attacked by the Muslim mob. Two soldiers and six policemen died.

Peter Mamman, a Christian victim of the attack, said the Muslims overwhelmed the soldiers and the policemen. “The well-armed Muslim militants possessed magical powers which they used to bewitch them,” Mamman said.

In December last year, a religious conflict engulfed Dumne village that also pitted Muslims against Christians. During that clash, 16 Muslims and two Christians were killed. The recent attack by Muslims on the Christian community is seen as an attempt by Muslims to retaliate for the 16 deaths.

Eyewitnesses said houses and churches in the village were burned to the ground by the invading mob. They blamed the government for not having enough policemen to protect the village.

Joshua Atiku, special advisor to the governor of Adamawa state, expressed sympathy with the victims of the attacks and said steps were being taken to curtail further attacks.

Meanwhile, police officials in the state have reported the arrests of 13 Muslim extremists from the Republic of Chad. The extremists are being accused of assisting in the attack on Christians in Dumne.

“Our men engaged the Muslim militants in a gun battle in which the leader of the group, a woman on horseback, was killed while 13 of them were arrested,” State Police Commissioner Muhammed Shu’aibu told journalists in Yola on March 4.

Shu’aibu said 50 sets of bows and arrows, three guns and other weapons were recovered from the extremists. He added that they were dressed in military uniforms.

Mr. Femi Oyeleye, police public relations officer for the Adamawa State Command, confirmed the arrests, saying, “Some foreigners, suspected to be Chadian mercenaries, are in the police net facing serious interrogation.”