By Wole Ayodele
No fewer than hundred people were feared killed and several others injured in the violent clash that occurred on Friday in the ancient city of Wukari in Taraba State between the aborigines and Hausa youths in the community.
Also, over hundred houses were set ablaze by the warring groups who THISDAY gathered engaged each other with guns and other dangerous weapons while forty people have been arrested by the state Police Command in connection with the mayhem.
And in a bid to bring the situation under control, the state government has declared a twenty four hour curfew even as residents of the town have fled to nearby villages in a frantic effort to avoid being caught in the cross fire.
The crisis was ignited by an attempt by some youths at Karofi Street in the town to prevent some traditionalists who were on procession as part of burial rites for a deceased traditional Chief, Abe Ashumate who was the Abon Ziken of Wukari.
An indigene of the town who spoke with THISDAY in a telephone interview from his hide out said they decided to flee the town and take refuge in a nearby bush due to the indiscriminate killing of people by the warring groups.
“Many people have fled the town and are taking refuge in bushes and villages around Wukari. People were being killed indiscriminately and I can tell you that I witness over fifty people being given mass burial. Though I cannot tell you the exact number of people killed, but it would be up to a hundred,” he said.
But speaking in a telephone interview with THISDAY yesterday, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), ASP Joseph Kwali said thirty nine (39) people were killed while thirty people were confirmed by the state Police Command to be injured in the crisis that has turned the erstwhile busy and lively community to a ghost town just as he declared that normalcy has returned to the troubled town.
According to him “I can confirm to you that thirty-nine people were killed in the crises while thirty people are injured while thirty-two houses were razed down but the police command has arrested forty people in connection with the crisis”.
Insisting that normalcy would soon return to the town, the PPRO stated “a twenty-four hour curfew have been imposed on the town and the residents have been restricted to their houses and as I am talking to you now, the situation has been brought under control and normalcy would soon return to the town”