Taraba State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Emmanuel Bello
By Wole Ayodele
The death toll in the violence that broke out between Muslims and Christians at Ibi in Taraba State has risen to 10 as the violence that engulfed the town Sunday morning escalates.
Among those killed Monday was a policeman who was said to have been killed in his attempt to rescue some of the refugees who were fleeing the town to avoid being caught in the cross fire.
This is coming just as soldiers drafted from the 93 Battalion in Takum to restore normalcy to the town arrested a yet-to-be-disclosed number of people dressed in Army uniform and believed to be mercenaries at Sarkin Kudu, a village in the local government bordering Plateau State.
Dangerous weapons including three AK 47 rifles, a pump action rifle, twelve locally made single barrel guns, one locally made rocket launcher, a locally made pistol, 23 dane guns and 55 live ammunition as well as 20 rings and various charms were recovered by the soldiers led by Lt. Col N.J Edet.
Besides the dead, over 200 people were said to have sustained varying degrees of injury and are receiving treatment in various hospitals at Ibi and Wukari General Hospital which is said to be filled to capacity with more victims unable to get attention hospital.
Five people were feared killed on Sunday when the violence, which was triggered by an attempt by a man to pass through the barricade mounted in from of Christian Reformed Church of Nigeria (CRCN) while service was in progress was resisted by Boys Brigade that were enforcing the no drive through order of the Church.
Chairman of Ibi local government, Alhaji Ishaka Adamu, told THISDAY that the violence has a political undertone though it looks like a religious crisis as he confirmed that several houses have been set ablaze in the violence.
Meanwhile, the state government has declared a 24-hour curfew in the town as part of efforts to avoid further escalation of the violence and just as a combined team of Soldiers from 93 Battalion, Takum and anti-riot policemen are stationed in the town to combat further violence.
In a statement signed by the state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Emmanuel Bello, the government said it had become imperative to impose the curfew in a bid to avoid further escalation of the crisis, saying the state government will stop at nothing to return peace to the troubled town.