Seven passengers killed in Taraba ethnic clash

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By Callistus Agwaza in Jalingo

Taraba state police command said it recovered the corpses of seven passengers who were  attacked on Tuesday evening while travelling to Bali LGA of the state.
David Iloyonomon, the police commissioner, disclosed this on Wednesday in an interview with journalists in Jalingo.
According to him,  the corpses were discovered by the police while on patrol following clashes  between Ichen and Tiv ethnic groups.
The police commissioner said,  trouble started on Tuesday when Ichen youths from Mararaba area of Donga LGA, also in Taraba state, reported to the Police Area Command  that a pastor and his church member were missing while on their way to the church.
He said on Tuesday at about 3pm,  the youths found the decomposing bodies of both the pastor and the church member, fueling ethnic tension between the Ichen and the Tiv.
Iloyonomon said, “Ichen youths went into town and started attacking the Tiv residents. It took the efforts of our men to rescue some of the Tiv people to Takum for safety.
“Today, being Wednesday, while our men were on patrol to maintain law and order to ensure that peace return, they found seven dead bodies – five women, one man and a baby and were evacuated to the police station.”
The police commissioner said, the deceaseds were  travelling in an 18-seater bus which  from Zaki/Biam, Benue state heading to  Maihula in Bali LGA, Taraba state on Tuesday.
The armed men, believed  to be members of a vigilante group were alleged to have  attacked  the bus at Gamkwe village in Donga LGA.
The driver of the  bus, Jimen Angera, and the conductor, escaped the attackers with machete injuries.
In a telephone interview,  Angera said, he and the bus conductor managed to escape, leaving the passengers with the armed men.
“I loaded 18 passengers from Zaki/Biam. Immediately after Maraba, I saw many people wearing vigilante uniforms.
“I suspected something was wrong, so I stopped  and asked one  of the villagers about what  was happening.
“He said the vigilante members were protesting the killing of two of their members.
“As I moved closer to them,  they stopped us. Some of them started shouting at us, saying that we should all be killed
“They started attacking the passengers with machetes. They ordered all of us out of the bus and asked  us to lie  down facing the ground”, the bus driver recounted the incident.
Ezra Voka, chairman of Dongo LGA, confirmed also confirmed the incident in a telephone interview with Amazing Times.

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