Jos: 7 bus passengers dragged out, killedYouths in Riyom Local Government Area barricaded the Abuja-Jos highway yesterday and killed seven people travelling along the route, introducing a new dimension to the tit-for-tat violence in Plateau State where hundreds have been killed since January.
Those killed yesterday were passengers travelling through Jos from other parts of the country, according survivors of the attack at Tahoss village, 30 kilometres south of Jos.
Surviving passengers said Christian youths from the Berom tribe barricaded the road as early as 9:00am, stopping vehicles and interrogating passengers to ascertain their religious affiliations or ethnic origins, after which those who were from rival tribes and religion were dragged out of the vehicles and beaten.
Our correspondents learnt that the attacks were a reprisal to avenge the killing of four people in the area by suspected Fulani marauders on Monday.
The youths mounted roadblocks since Monday night but were dispersed by the men of the special task force. They later regrouped yesterday morning.
Chairman of Riyom LGA Mr. Simon Markus confirmed to BBC Hausa yesterday that six people were killed in the incident. He said security officers had been drafted to the area, and that six corpses had been exhumed. He lamented that the people killed were mere passersby. “Those people killed have no idea of what was happening,” Markus said.
A police officer in the area who refused to be named because he was not authorised to speak said seven people were confirmed dead and several others were injured.
Security forces tried to send the youths off the road but they were initially overpowered because of their superior numerical strength. They later succeeded in opening the road and rescuing many passengers.
Our correspondent saw some of the victims brought to the state Criminal Investigation Department and later taken to Jos Central Mosque.
One of the victims with a deep cut on his head, Abdullahi Adamu, 23, said he was attacked while delivering a bus load of vegetables in a J5 bus with registration number SA 455 DAS.
“I was driving towards Akwanga (Nasarawa State) when I noticed a group of youths who were carrying machetes, cutlasses, catapults coming towards us. As soon as I noticed their unfriendly mood I started to reverse my bus, but it was too late, the engine of the bus died completely. But before they arrived where we were, I jumped out of the bus and also told the remaining two passengers to run,” he said.
“I ran until I got exhausted. That was how they pounced on me beating and throwing stones at me, until a mobile policeman came and rescued me. But because they were so many them, the policeman found it very difficult to protect me. Luckily for me a car was brought by some policemen and they took me away and brought me to the state CID office,” he said.
On the two passengers in his bus, Adamu said, “I don’t know whether they are alive or dead because we all ran in different directions.”
Another survivor Alhaji Sani Shuabu said he was on his way from Abuja to Bauchi with three other people to deliver building materials when they were stopped by a group of protesting youths carrying knifes, cudgels and sticks at a junction.
He said the youths started raining insults on them and asked them to alight from the vehicle after which they descended on them, beating them. He said they ran but were pursued by the youths, hauling large stones at them. Shuaibu, who had a deep cut on his wrist and in the back, said he was rescued by two mobile policemen he run into.
Police spokesman ASP Mohammed Lerama confirmed that there was “problem” in the Riyom area, but said he could not speak on the matter yet because state police commissioner had gone to the scene to ascertain the situation.
Assistant Army Public Relations Officer Lt-Colonel Galadima Shekari said troops were on their way to the scene of the incident at the time of filing this report.
State Commissioner of Information Gregory Yenlong said when he heard about the incident he called the Riyom local government chairman to confirm, and was told there was problem. He said the chairman pledged to call him back and brief him over the incident, but was yet to do that as at the time our correspondent called.
AFP news agency reported that the military exhumed seven bodies from fresh, shallow graves in the area. The bodies were buried in three shallow graves in remote forests of Tahoss.
Former minister of state for information and communication, Alhaji Dasuki Ibrahim Nakande, said from the reports he got from members of his community, no less than nine innocent passersby were killed by the Berom youths.
He said Governor Jonah Jang must be held responsible for the killing of innocent persons and must prevailed upon by his colleague governors to own up and take responsibility for the killing since the youths were from his ethnic group.