“For quite some time we have alerted the government to training grounds in some parts of the northern state where people are being trained to cause problems in the country… Nobody did anything about it.” More on this story. “Nigeria: Christian Muslim violence perpetrated by mercenaries?,” by Konye Obaji Ori for Afrik, March 10 (thanks to Twostellas):
The return to sectarian violence in the Plateau State city of Jos has been largely described as a revenge from the deadly attacks in January. It has also been reported that some of the perpetrators were mercenaries from neighboring Chad and Niger.
Following the sacking of the country’s national security adviser, Sarki Mukhtar, in an apparent response to the sectarian killings by Nigeria’s acting president Mr. Goodluck Jonathan, reports have revealed that Mercenaries from Niger and Chad may have participated in the attacks on Christian villages that claimed hundreds of lives. Those who died were reported to be mainly women and children.
“Many people come into Nigeria under the pretext of being pastoralists, they are mercenaries [from Chad, Niger]. They follow pastoralist routes to gain entrance, carry out their activities and then leave,” the head of the northern area of Nigeria’s Christian Association Mr. Saidu Dogo was quoted as saying.
Mr. Dogo urged the international community to become more actively involved as, he said, the government was unable to protect its own people. “We feel that the world just has to do something. If the Nigerian government cannot do something then the world has to do something to stop this killing,” Mr. Dogo added.
Analysts have described the attack on the three villages near the Plateau state capital, Jos, as an act of revenge carried out by members of the mainly Muslim Fulani community who had fallen prey to violent attacks in January. Human Rights Watch had reported that the sectarian violence in January may have claimed the lives of at least “364 Muslims”.
Above is an extremely deceptive description of the situation in Jos, implying that Christians fired the first proverbial shot, and that the conflict is new. A prior report on the situation in January said “Two pastors and 46 other Christians were killed in the outbreak of violence in Jos on Jan. 17, triggered when Muslim youths attacked a Catholic church; 10 church buildings were burned, and police estimated more than 300 lives were lost in the clash.”
Another report elaborated:
Angry Muslim youths set fire to a church filled with worshipers, starting a riot that killed at least 27 people and wounded more than 300 in Jos, in northern Nigeria, officials said Monday. Sani Mudi, a spokesman for the local imam, said 22 people died in fighting between Christians and Muslims after rioters set fire to a Catholic church on Sunday.
According to reports, Nigerian troops are patrolling the villages which were targeted on Sunday in a bid to prevent further violence and police say they have arrested more than 90 people suspected of inciting violence. Nonetheless villagers from the nearby communities have began to flee the area for fear of fresh bouts of violence.
“We are fleeing our village because we are afraid we might be the next target of attack by these Fulani. They have been making phone calls warning they are going to attack. We take these threats seriously. We don’t want to be caught off-guard,” AFP quoted a local resident as saying.
The Plateau State Christian Elders Consultative Forum complained that it had taken the army two hours to react after receiving a distress call: “For quite some time we have alerted the government to training grounds in some parts of the northern state where people are being trained to cause problems in the country… Nobody did anything about it.”
Governor of Plateau state Mr. Jonah Jang said he had warned the army about reports of suspicious people with weapons hours before they attacked, but they failed to take action. “Three hours or so later, I was woken by a call that they have started burning the village and people were been hacked to death. I tried to locate the commanders. I couldn’t get any of them on the telephone,” Mr. Jang was quoted as saying….