Monday, September 12, 2011

NIGERIA: CSW calls for prayer for recent violence in Jos 09/09/2011

Over the last fortnight, tensions have flared, with allegations of military collusion as religiously-motivated violence erupted in the city of Jos in central Nigeria.

The city of Jos in Plateau State saw a worrying upsurge in religiously-motivated violence after fighting erupted on Monday 29 August at a Muslim prayer ground. Tensions rose as the end of Ramadan approached and news emerged of plans to make use of the long-disused prayer ground. Rumours spread that members of the militant Islamist group, Boko Haram would be present at a prayer service on the site, which is located in the area where several non-Muslims had been killed when it was bombed on Christmas Eve last year. Angry non-Muslim youths vowed to disrupt the service in retaliation for the killings, and in an effort to avert violence, the State Security Services (SSS) vetoed use of the prayer ground, recommending an alternative location.
However, the Izala sect led by Sheikh Yahya Jingir, ignored the security directive and descended on the area heavily armed and with a military escort. As anticipated, heavy fighting broke out, vehicles and properties were destroyed, including the Christ Apostolic Church in Sarkin Mangu, and at least sixteen people were killed, including a pastor, who was mutilated and burnt.

Violence continued into early September, with an unknown number of lives lost. Four soldiers were injured and required medical attention, according to the Special Task Force. However, there were also indications of elements of the military fracturing along religious lines. According to eyewitnesses, two non-Muslim youths were killed and a mobile policeman was injured after heavy fighting broke out between soldiers and youths in the Dogon Karfe area, where non-Muslim passers-by were attacked by Hausa-Fulani security personnel. Additionally, a soldier reportedly opened fire on the car containing a Christian family, injuring one person in the eye, after being stopped at a road block and questioned about their religious identity. Meanwhile night-time raids on villages by armed Fulanis continue. On Saturday 3 September, eight members of same family were killed in attack on Tatu in Heipang, while three people were murdered during a raid on Kuru. On the evening of Sunday 4 September, twelve people were killed and three injured in a raid on Babale in Jos North, and four died during a raid on Dabwak.

CSW is joining alongside local Christians in Plateau State who are praying and trusting for a solution to what now seems like intractable violence.
Please pray:
- For comfort for victims and healing for the injured- That the violence does not spiral out of control through retaliation - For adequate protection for remote and vulnerable communities- That the military remains professional and impartial, and biased elements are weeded out- That those sponsoring or perpetrating violence are brought to justice- That both federal and local authorities would move boldly and decisively to bring about justice for victims, peace and reconciliation

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