Many people were feared killed this Saturday in a fresh crisis between Jukun and Tiv ethnic groups in Wukari southern Taraba state.
Fleeing residents say that many houses were burnt down as several persons from both sides of the conflict were confirmed injured and others killed.
The conflict it was further gathered has affected all Jukuns and Tivs villages along Wukari Kwatan Sule, Chonku, and border communities of Jootar and Vaase with residents fleeing.
A Jukun community leader Mr. Bako Benjamin alleged that despite the peace accord reached last week between the two warring communities,’’ Tiv ethnic militias have continued to launch pocket of attacks on our communities.
Just this morning in the wee hours they struck at Chonku firing sporadically and razed down houses. They attacked four of our communities in the last three days and as I am talking to you corpses of the 15 people killed by Tiv militias were deposited in Wukari and we have compiled their names.
Enough is enough! We are not afraid and ever ready to continue with the fight if they think they will try us!,’’ exclaimed Benjamin.
But in a swift reaction Mr. Orbee Uchiv a Tiv spokesman said that,
our people are being attacked by Jukun ethnic militias in the recent time.
‘’ Peace meeting at Jootar, a border town between Benue & Taraba States convened by one Rev Father Dankaro and other priests to sue for peace was truncated.
Thursday morning Vaase a border town was attacked in wee hours by Jukuns. More than 12 people were killed.
Probably on reprisal this morning, Chonku a border Jukun settlement was attacked.
But as I am talking to you now, looting arson and killing within and around villages of Tiv people is going on, and hundreds of Tivs have fled to Benue state,’’ said Uchiv.
It was gathered that the misunderstanding was caused by a long-standing dispute between the two ethnic groups centered on cultural heritage.
Another resident of Wukari Mallam Dauda Tsoho said that apart from the cultural heritage issue, there was also a long-standing land dispute between the two ethnic groups.
The chairman of Wukari local government area, Mr. Daniel Adi, who confirmed the outbreak of the crisis in the area, said many feared killed and houses burnt in the last five days fight.
“I have since reached out to the Chairman of Ukum local government in the neighboring Benue and the Security Adviser to the Benue Governor and we are making efforts to stop the escalation of the crisis,” the council chairman said.
Reports said commercial activities have come to halt at the popular Wukari Yam Market as commodities were looted and the place deserted after traders fled away.
Police Public Relations Officer in the state, DSP David Misal, said, security operatives were on the top of the situation, ‘’ already security operatives were deployed in the affected areas, though I am yet to confirm casualty figures in the latest attacks.’’