Police Say Well-Equipped To Stop Communal Violence

Lafia- Nigeria (PANA) -- Nigeria Police say they are now well-equipped to stem the communal violence in the country's central State of Nasarawa, where hundreds of people have been killed and thousands displaced in two weeks of fighting.
The assurance came as tension continued to mount in the State following attacks and counter-attacks by militants of the Hausa-speaking Azara people, the original settlers, and the Tivs who migrated from nearby Benue State.
Spokesman for the State police Command, Sunday Audu, told PANA Friday in Lafia, the State capital, that the Command had received reinforcements in personnel, arms and ammunitions with which to contain the fighting.
"As at last count, we have received reinforcements from Sokoto, Jigawa and Zamfara States of about 70 mobile policemen," Audu said.
He said although this might be inadequate to effectively police the affected areas, "the number we have now is manageable.
" "We can make do with the number," Audu said.
The police officer said no arrests had been made since the fighting started 12 June, following the murder of the chief of Azara, Musa Ibrahim, By unknown persons.
Ibrahim was also the Special Assistant to the State Governor, Abdullahi Adamu.
Audu said the command's decision not to arrest anyone was to avoid "one group accusing the police of taking sides.
" At least six policemen have been killed and three others abducted since the outbreak of the fighting, during which locally-made guns, machetes, bows and arrows and other dangerous weapons were used.
Audu said the police had not made contacts with the abducted officers, "but three days ago we got a hint that they are still alive.
" The fighting escalated this week with clashes in Tundun Adabu, Aguchi, Agaza and Giza villages of Obi and Keana local government councils, which led to the death of about 40 people, including 17 children.
Audu said the situation in the affected areas was returning to normal, as the police had embarked on regular patrol of the villages.
"No new fighting has been reported since three days ago," he said Meanwhile, people displaced by the fighting are daily streaming into the make-shift camp at the Dunama primary school in the State capital.
The PANA correspondent who visited the camp Friday reported that more than 1,000 persons arrived at the camp on Thursday alone.
Many of them were looking tired, having trekked long distances to the camp.
Lucy Adara, a housewife, said she decided to run from her home after she was beaten with "sticks and woods," and that she did not know the whereabouts of her husband and two of her children.
"We were attacked early in the morning in our sleep," she told officials of the State chapter of the Nigeria Red Cross, who are taking care of the displaced people in the camp.
"My children were brought out and macheted in front of me," she said, amid sobs.

29 june 2001 19:27:00

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