THE fundamentalist Islamic sect, Jama’atu Ahlissunnah Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad, otherwise known as Boko Haram, on Tuesday in a statement claimed responsibility for the mass killings in Plateau State at the weekend.
More than 100 persons were reportedly killed in attacks on three communities in the Barkin Ladi and Riyom local government areas of the state on Saturday and Sunday.
The sect “thanked God for the success of the attacks” and vowed that there was no going back on the jihad (Holy War) it had launched against Christians and the government. It also asked “Christians in Nigeria to accept Islam” as a condition for a ceasefire.
It described as a “new lie” claims by the new National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, that he has an access for a dialogue with its leaders.
Full (and unedited) text of the Boko Haram statement, issued by its famous spokesman, Abu Qaqa, and posted on SaharaReporters on Tuesday, reads, “The Jama’atu Ahlissunnah Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad, is grateful to Almighty God and hereby makes it known to the world of our success and attack on Barkin Ladi and Riyom in Plateau State on Christians, security agencies and members of National Assembly.
“Like we said earlier, Christians in Nigeria should accept Islam, that is true religion, or they will never have peace. We do not regard them as trusted Christians as some illiterates are campaigning because it was Christians that first declared war on Muslims with the support of government.
“Like we said, we shall continue to look for government officials; they will not have the rest of mind. We will attack their homes and security agencies in the same way they are attacking us and destroying our houses that we have been renting. We will continue with what we did in Rijiyar Zaki in Kano State.
“To the general public, particularly those in Kano that are dragging their heads into this fight by supporting security agencies. Let them learn from what happened to people in Kurna quarters. From now on anyone found wanting should have himself to blame. We do not have any agenda than working to establish Islamic Kingdom like during the time of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) no matter what will happen to us.
“We heard the information going round that new National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, has gotten means of reaching us for a dialogue, that is a new lie.”
86 died –STF
The Special Task Force, a military outfit in charge of security in the state, on Tuesday, however, put the number of dead victims of the weekend’s attacks at 86.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Emmanuel Abuh, however said that the casualty figure had not been ascertained because of the resurgence of attacks on Sunday. He said that figures were still being compiled.
Spokesman for the STF, Capt. Salisu Mustapha, told our correspondent in Jos that the figure included 63 bodies counted in the nine villages attacked by gunmen and that of the 21 bodies of the attackers that met their deaths during the violence.
Two policemen, according to Mustapha, were also killed.
Fifty bodies were recovered from a church in Matse. The dead were villagers that ran to the church during Saturday’s attack on their community.
Among the victims of the killings were a Senator, Gyang Dantong; and a member of the state House of Assembly, Gyang Fulani, who met their deaths on Sunday when gunmen swooped on them while leading the procession for the mass burial of the 50 killed in the church.
A survivor of the attack on the legislators, Mr. Simon Mwadkon, said Dantong and Fulani died of exhaustion while running away from their attackers.
Mwadkon is a member of the House of Representatives.
Soldiers didn’t run away
Salisu denied media reports that the soldiers ran away because of the superior gunfire of the attackers.
Mwadkon had told Governor Jonah Jang, when the latter visited him that he suspected connivance between the soldiers and the attackers given the behaviour of the colonel who led the security team to the burial site where Dantong and Fulani were killed.
He had also told Jang that the colonel directed them to remove the ambulance they brought to the site to enable him to bring in an armoured tank, but rather used his Hillux Van to block the only road to the place.
Mwadkon had also alleged that it took the soldiers more than one-and-a- half hours to convey the gasping senator to the hospital, while he, who left after the senator, arrived at the hospital ahead of the soldiers.
Dantong’s younger brother, Rwang, on Monday had alleged that the attack on the procession was aimed at killing the Senator.
However, Mustapha described Mwadkon’s claims as lies.
He said, “Those are blatant lies, nothing like that happened. These people (soldiers) are professionals for crying out loud. How can they run away?
“What they did when they heard the gunshots was to tell the people to lie down because they knew that from the distance the shots were coming from nobody would be hit because of the calibre of the guns they were shooting from; but in frenzy they all started running. And that was why the two senators died of exhaustion and it was for the same reason that nobody sustained any gunshots.”
No arrest yet
He however said no arrest had been made.
The Plateau State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Yiljap Abraham, could not be reached as he was said to be attending the state Security Council meeting as of press time.
The Coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency in the state, Mr. Dan Gambo, could also not be reached as calls to his mobile phone were not answered.
More attacks on Tuesday
Meanwhile, fresh attacks were reported in two more villages in the Barkin Ladi and Riyom local government areas on Tuesday.
The attackers set ablaze the houses of fleeing villagers at Shong and Tse in Barkin Ladi.
Though reports indicated that there were no lives lost in the Tuesday attacks, a member representing Riyom constituency in Plateau State House of Assembly, Daniel Dem, who confirmed the new development to our correspondent on Tuesday, said that more than 140 corpses were still lying rottten at the scene of attacks in the villages because the villagers had no access to their homes to evacuate the bodies of their loved ones.
He said, “I can authoritatively confirm to you that as I am talking to you now, the same gunmen from top of the mountain have attacked two more villages.
“The two villages, Tse and Shong, are in ruins with no house standing. The gunmen came in their usual style with sporadic shootings. The villagers were scared and they ran out of their houses, the gunmen set the houses ablaze and the incident had added to the numbers of displaced people in the area.”
Efforts to get Abuh to comment on the new development were not successful as calls to his mobile phone were not answered.